Reviews

Digital Ash in a Digital Urn

Author: Christopher Parron
01/29/2005 | Decoymusic.com | www.decoymusic.com | Album Review
When I heard Bright Eyes mastermind Conor Oberst would be releasing two albums on the same day I was skeptical. I mean who does he think he is, Nelly? After hearing both albums it's obvious why he chose to do this. Digital Ash in a Digital Urn is quite a departure from the standard Bright Eyes sound yet it still sounds exactly like him. Much reminiscent of Radiohead's adventures with Kid A and Amnesiac; Digital Ash in a Digital Urn is ripe with electronics (though not what you would expect when someone says electronics) and gorgeous keyboarding from one very capable Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeah's fame.

The album opener "Time Code" begins with random noises and I was half expecting Pink Floyd's "Time" to kick in. The song quickly evolves into a dreary organ behind Conor softly breathing into the microphone. Conor's standard lyrics roll in like waves off the ocean on a calm day. However once you get the idea and feel comfortable with it, the song changes into an Autolux type beat and (you guessed it) changes yet again into a Team Sleep sounding keyboard gently gnawing away in the backgorund. The song fittingly ends with an alarm clock ringing and quickly moves on to the next splendid track. Mind you this is all within about a three minute span. Normally this would sound like a complete mess but this is the wunderkid of a new generation we are talking about here. The rest of the album continues in a similar fashion but it's so well crafted I can only imagine the perfectionism that must have been implemented into getting this just right.

Throughout the entire album you get a feeling you've heard this all before; and you're right because you probably have. However, never has Conor sounded so beautiful or willing to branch out with new ideas. The second half of the album seems to be a little stronger than the first but this in no way means the first six tracks are anything less than amazing. The album is lush with Conor's semi-cryptic yet easily accesible lyrics and beautiful soundscapes swirling like a kaleidescope of auditory input.

I've fallen asleep for the past few night listening to this album on my headphones and it gets better and better each time. The best album I've heard this year for sure and I hope that Bright Eyes will consider continuing in this direction as it's by far the best album they've (he's) released. If you're already a fan you'll definitely be getting this anyway. If you're new to Bright Eyes I'd do whatever it takes to get a hold of this album. You won't be disappointed.



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