Bright Eyes’ CD ‘fails to break new ground’

Jared Berg

Jared Berg

Hailed by Rolling Stone as “a masterpiece of country-flavored heartland angst,” I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, may pluck a resonating chord with many Midwestern listeners.

The fifth full-length studio album from 24-year-old Nebraskan native Conor Oberst and his right hand band, Bright Eyes.

Oberst’s sullen voice and emotionally spiced poetry belts unabashed, personal feelings of love and loneliness, death and drugs, as well as the utter indecision of life in contemporary America through the album’s ten angst-ridden acoustical ballads.

The band, supported by Oberst’s own independent record label, Omaha’s Saddle Creek, has succeeded in creating a simple folk sound laced with mellow interludes similar to those of Damien Rice, Dashboard Confessional and Elliot Smith.

Lyrics like “If you hate the taste of wine/Why do you drink it till you’re blind,’ and “Why are you scared to dream of God, when it’s salvation that you want?” define this album, like previous efforts, as an introspective investigation into human consciousness.

Found on the song “At the Bottom of Everything,” are the orders: “we must blend into the choir, sing as static with the whole/we must memorize nine numbers and deny we have a soul,” which state the difficulty of creating an individual identity in the “endless race for property and privilege to be one.”

A few particulars, however, strike my ear in an irritating manner. First, his duet with Emmylou Harris on “Landlocked Blues” is an awful, scattered attempt to break new ground. Keep the guitar, Conor-please, no a cappella. The album also falls into a thematic rut, yet again failing to leave the depressed nihilism of earlier albums behind.

Bottom line: if you’re a fan, pick this album up, and if not, borrow it from someone who is a fan.