Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


Digital Ash in a Digital Urn

Author: Ed Porter
02/21/2005 | | | Album Review
Bright Eyes is probably one of the most over publicized bands in recent memory. Accompanying the release of his two new albums, I've personally seen Conor Oberst's face on more magazines than I can remember. His popularity is not unwarranted. Beginning his reign of the indie scene at an age that most of us were still worried whether or not we'd find a date to the prom, he's made quite an impression on everyone who has ever heard his music. He has lyrics to make any social outcast feel at home, a voice that conveys feeling unlike many others, and a musically diverse range of styles. Still, one must wonder if all the commotion made on his behalf is really valid.

Brighteyes recently released two albums simultaneously to appease his adoring fans. "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" is Conor's offering of traditional acoustic Bright Eyes stuff, and "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn" would be the full band album. I've always enjoyed Bright Eyes more as a full band, so naturally I decided it'd be best for me to review "Digital Ash..." The album opens with a 4:28 long intro entitled "Time Code," which plainly bored the living hell out of me. The CD kind of starts off slow, as the second song, "Gold Mine Gutted," feels like it's still building up to the potential finally realized in "Arc of Time." After this the "Digital Ash" feels like it starts and tends to keep the general tone of a Bright Eyes record throughout. The tone of slow, electronic heavy, safe music. The problem is that after your initial fascination with Conor's newfound love of digital dubbing and sampling, it's just plain old Bright Eyes. We know you're a drunk Conor and we know you're a socialist (see his side project Desaparecidos for further evidence of his political views). In general, I feel like I already know Conor Oberst to well.

In the end, I don't claim to say that this album is bad, because it's not. In fact, when I first heard it I was impressed. The problem is that it hasn't aged well. I tire of music quickly, but this album faired much worse than normal. After listening to it for merely a day, I'd grown bored with it. There just aren't any tracks that make me want to keep listening to it. Nothing on the record is bad, but nothing on it is very good either. I mean, how many of us can still remember word for word the lyrics for "Lover I Don't Have to Love"? How many words can I remember for this "Digital Ash..." after listening to it for over a month... the choruses? Maybe I've grown out of Conor, or maybe this record just really isn't all that the magazines hype it up to be.

For Fans of: Saddlecreek Records, Matt Pond PA, Mates of State, indie music


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