Conor Oberst, aka Bright Eyes, has a reputation for being wordy, but the 14-word title of his fifth album sure takes the cake. This fresh-faced Nebraskan songwriter, you see, is keen to prove he is one of a kind. While his Bright Eyes project clearly follows in the vague lineage of leftfield rock nom de plums like Palace Brothers
, where those outfits possess a kind of mystic elusiveness, Oberst has made a career of pouring forth words like a god-fearing adolescent at his first confessional. The Story Is in the Soil...
is often wilfully scrappy: with studio conversations and the sound of whirring tape reels left in, often, it appears theres no such thing as an out-take in Bright Eyes swollen musical vocabulary. But Oberst undoubtedly possesses a rare and raw talent. Straining his vocal chords like a precocious youngster mock-flexing his muscles, he tears through a canon of staggeringly deft musical arrangements that constantly veer from joyful marching anthems ("From a Balance Beam") to desolate lullabies (False Advertising), dragging you powerfully in their wake. Its hard to digest it all in one sitting, but if youre into indie-rock and youve not experienced Bright Eyes in full, tearful flow, youre surely missing something. --Louis Pattison