Reviews

Four Winds

03/12/2007 | 30music.com | www.30music.com | Album Review
Ever since the release of Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground back in 2002, Bright Eyes has released a precursor EP focused around the forthcoming album's lead single. It's tradition, like dancing around a tree singing your favorite carols at Christmas or flying your American flag on Flag Day. Thank God for traditions as they keep us all safe, sane, and familiar. Anyhow, these EP's are typically accompanied by a handful of songs Conor Oberst had/has floating around in his songbook. They are usually fairly decent listens and help aid in the excitement (or lack thereof) for the respective full-length that is typically a month or two away from flying off the record store's New Release shelf. Four Winds, which is the precursor to Bright Eyes' sixth official "studio" album, Cassadaga, is no exception.

"Four Winds" kick starts the EP with this wondrously raw violin arrangement that carries on for exactly 58.5 seconds before Oberst's recognizable vocal melodies take over the tune. For the remaining three-plus minutes Oberst and his crew rock, sway, and roll through a thickly clouded melody that is typical Bright Eyes fare. However, there is something new to their forte going on here, albeit not transparent. It's this seriously jovial tone centralized by semi-obtuse lyrics amidst realms of aspiration, optimism, and what appears to be…Mexico? Well, at least it comes off like that. In any case, "Four Winds" is a fine track that should coagulate some enthusiasm to hear the upcoming record.

The remainder of this teaser EP is Noise Floor: Rarities-esque – i.e. not necessarily top-tier material, but smooth enough, and 100% necessary for Bright Eyes completists. "Reinvent the Wheel" is cute with swirling harmonies and harmonicas galore whereas "Smoke Without Fire" is stripped down to the essentials: vocals and a distained guitar, complete with a cameo by M. Ward and all the sentimentality one can seemingly handle. It's good to know their still friends, right?

Four Winds closes with "Tourist Trap," a waltzy folk number that pours more of the maudlin propensity that comes with a majority of the Bright Eyes catalogue. The echo-y backbeat is the catalyst here as more harmonicas and warm electric guitars schmooze the luminous sluggishness of this track.

Whether or not you're all fired up about Cassadaga, Four Winds is a pleasant, albeit not completely necessary, addition to your Bright Eyes collection. Again, if you tend to fiend for this stuff, pick it the freak up. If not, just download "Four Winds" and continue to passively listen.
Four Winds

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