The 8th studio recorded album by singer-songwriter and guitarist Conor Oberst and his band delivers what potentially could be his last album under the Bright Eyes name. Nice that it was actually released on Conor Oberst's birthday.
The album features guest artists Andy LeMaster of Now It's Overhead, Matt Maginn of Cursive, Carla Azar of Autolux, Clark Baechle of The Faint, Shane Aspegren of The Berg Sans Nipple, Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds, and Denny Brewer of Refried Ice Cream. The lyrics make mention of Haile Selassie, the Lion of Judah and I and I, all symbols of Rastafariansim.
Opening with a spoken word intro on 'Firewall' and orchestral backing, with talk of history, evolution, space, science and spirits. The guy is Denny Brewer, I don't know any more about him, but he features throughout the album. After 2 mins a old wild west style guitar loop kicks in and conor's familiar vocals, more gentle than on previous albums, builds nicely with drums and ends up exploding into life. Beautiful opener of a song, mixing old and new sides of Bright Eyes. The loop reminds me of a song by 'Martin Grech' but that's the only similarity, worth a listen though as he is amazing too. Amazon don't have the song in question, but this one is in similar vain The Heritage
'Shell Games' is an upbeat song with guitar, synths and violin in tow. It's great to hear the positivity amongst conor's troubled musings.
'Jejune Stars' incredible song, again pretty upbeat, awesome song with furious electronic drum beats and bass sporadicaly throughout, ends with the chap who spoke at the start of first track 'Firewall'. 'Approximate Sunlight'takes us back to 2002 album LIFTED ( OR THE STORY IS )
with it's dark thought provoking lyrics and sound, very very good and powerful in feeling. 'Haile Selassie' is a mid tempo track with pretty good feeling within, nice chorus, clever lyrics and musically strong. 'A Machine Spiritual (In the People's Key)' is another mid-up tempo track, with positive lyrics, thoughtful and clever, ends with the same chap talking again which flows into the next song. At this stage this album is turning our to be one of Bright Eyes best and if it is the last one, he is going out on a high, leaving a great legacy behind. 'Triple Spiral' would have also fit nicely on 2005 album Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
, synth and guitar surround upbeat lyrics in a very bouncy song indeed. 'Beginners Mind' is another great upbeat track that starts slow and acoustic and builds into a full blown band track with a great chorus that will have singing 'Starting Over, You Keep, Starting Over, You Keep, Starting Over' for weeks and ends of echoey robotic vocals and back down to acoustic again. 'Ladder Song' is a moving piano and vocal based song with thoughtful moving lyrics, one of my highlights of the album and well placed just before the last track. 'One For You, One For Me' leaves us with a floaty, beautiful song sounding song that the Flaming lips would have been proud, first band that came to mind, Would be a favourite of Bright Eyes fans that love Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
, which is one of my favourite albums, this track finishes with the old guy (Denny Brewer).
This album will stand the test of time, an amazing piece of work, art, musical genius which feels almost like a look back over all conor's work and forward to what could be. I for one am hoping that this is not the last Bright Eyes album, but if he chooses to lay this hat down, he has left a lasting legacy that we all can cherish.