Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


Letting off the Happiness

Author: Benjamin Tuttle
01/01/1999 | | | Album Review
The Players: Conor Oberst with Matt McGinn (bass), Matt Fotch (drums),
Neeley Jenkins (vox), Brother Matt (gtr), Jeremy Barnes (percuss), Kevin
Barnes (Rhodes), Ted Stevens (drums), Aaron Druery (ebow bass). Recorded
at Whoop Ass by Mike Mogis. Additional engineer: Andy Lemaster.

The power behind production should not be limited to thick mixers and expensive sound sources. Rather, the strength of the singer's soul, the talent within the tone, and the truth within the texture of words and sounds are what give meaning and value to a recording. Letting Off the Happiness is a collected capture of ten songs tinged with indie pop hooks, peculiar tones and six string sounds, all which casually step around a pop/rock genre pothole with confidence. There is a modest feeling emitting from this Nebraska based creation, one which gracefully acknowledges the imperfections of the recording as a whole, yet still expresses itself with closed eyes that sing of the value of inaccuracy to an honest musician. The fun by four-track feel illustrated by the Bright Eyes recording should inspire any resourceful musician/technician to push the limits of their recording equipment. Although there were a few moments when the vocals reached a slight
whining demeanor, the overall melodic spirit moved my musical appreciation meter simply because no matter where the voice went, it was genuine and true. The title of the Bright Eyes album, Letting Off the Happiness made me think that songwriter Conor Oberst knew he was letting go of the smiles these songs/sounds gave him in their unpublished state.

By pushing the materialized happiness off into the vast and bleak ocean of the compact disc world, where discs wander like driftwood from retail and residential to second hand, the true happiness of the musical expression was being let go into a sea of judgment and criticism. Fear not musician, your feat is filled with insightful sounds and thought provoking intellect, something many music makers have been reaching for their entire lives. Intelligent, progressive in production, simple and catchy, and down to earth in the depths of the Midwest, Bright Eyes round out a recording in varied and simple song writing skill.


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