Reviews

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Author: Nick Santos
02/04/2005 | Villanovan | Album Review
Never before has an album this depressing had the ability to make its listeners so happy.

Bright Eyes' new release "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning," which came out last Tuesday, is without a doubt one of the most imaginative acoustic albums this year.

Don't write off Bright Eyes' new release as just another I'm-so-emotional, I-have-to-write-every-song-about-my-ex-girlfriend albums that have tainted the whole notion of the modern singer/songwriter. Instead, "It's Morning" is original in its style, verse, subject matter and approach.

As the band's only constant member, Conor Oberst (guitar, vocals, songwriter) shows off his musical ingenuity by mixing soft acoustic guitar with instruments like pedal steel guitars and mandolins to create a unique acoustic sound.

"It's Morning" is transparently influenced by modern folk music, which is evident in the album's opening track.

The mix of twangy, mountain melodies coupled with Oberst's uneven crybaby tremors creates a truly unique sound that drives the musical spirit of the album.

The music and lyrics of the album really set it apart from other acoustic albums in recent memory.

Rather than simplifying the music by stripping it of all instruments besides an acoustic guitar, a bass and perhaps a piano, Oberst opts to complicate the sound by adding multiple instruments played by a revolving set of band members.

This is a refreshing step away from the emotional, over-the-top acoustic trends of late that have dampened the effectiveness of the genre.

In the same fashion as the music, Oberst's song writing is as equally impressive as it is convoluted.

Song subjects range from restless self-discovery to jaded nihilism, depression and war.

His emo/indie sensibility is apparent as he invites listeners into his personal threshold of loneliness and despair, like in the song "Lua," where Oberst sings, "I got a flask inside my pocket/we can share it on the train/And if you promise to stay conscious I will try to do the same/We might die from medication but we sure killed all the pain/But what was normal in the evening by the morning seems insane."

But Oberst truly flexes his lyric writing abilities in songs like "Road to Joy" and "Poison Oak," which is an account of a friend's drug-related death. The gem of the album though, "Land Locked Blues," could stand as one of the most unique anti-war songs that has been released in the modern song-writing era, if it ever gains any kind of commercial exposure, which it probably won't.

In the song Oberst preaches, "We made love on the living room floor/With the noise in the background of a televised war/And in the deafening pleasure I thought I heard someone say/if we walk away they'll walk away."

The album will please Bright Eyes fans and although Oberst's voice is an acquired taste it will also reel in new admirers.

Anybody that enjoys slow, depressing music and complicated lyrics should definitely give this album a spin, because if anything it is exactly that -- depressing and complicated.


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