An album by his side project, The Desaparecidos, looked at money's corrosive effect on society, he sang When the President Talks to God on Tonight With Jay Leno and joined Bruce Springsteen on the Vote for Change tour. But Cassadega, the Bright Eyes album that reaches stores today, turns introspective again - and ranks among his best work. More folky and polished than past releases, it's close to a commercial breakthrough for the indie band from Omaha.
Make a Plan To Love Me features strings, lush vocals and traditional arrangements. Despite its sometimes-dark lyrics, I Must Belong Somewhere sounds upbeat.
He doesn't abandon social commentary: No One Would Riot for Less talks about war, soldiers, "the madness of the government" and the notion that "war has no heart / it'll kill you in the sunshine / or happily in the dark."
Bright, shiny moments
Conor Oberst has released dozens of singles, EPs, albums and side projects. Three essentials:
Fevers and Mirrors (2000): This Bright Eyes album is strong from start to finish.
• Read Music/Speak Spanish (2002): The punk-flavored Desaparecidos side project features sharp songs on money and what it does to people.
Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (2002): Once you get past the unwieldy title for this Bright Eyes album, you find epic songwriting.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3