Reviews

Fevers and Mirrors

Author: Thomas Prindle
5/29/2000 | Instant mag | www.instantmag.com | Album Review
I am frightened and I am elated. Something between ennui and an oncoming fit. C is for Conor Oberst, who sings in a band. B is for Bright Eyes, more than a name. Fevers and Mirrors is their third full length Saddle-Creek release and fourth to follow the Every Day and Every Night ep(isode). A record of continuing "importance" that chronicles the extending career of America's more recent shining songwriters and lyricist.

Developing upon his 1995-1997...Collection of Songs...release, Conor carries forth elements of that same years Letting Off The Happiness release to combine brilliant, if not haunting, lyrical prose with a continued collaborative by Mike Mogis (Lullaby For The Working Class), a willing Dead Space recording studio, and various other musicians of note. Omaha, Nebraska now finds itself home to an incestuous band scene that sees Conor Oberst another stalwart spokesperson pressed by creatively fictional, or perhaps factual, images of depression, alcoholism, chemical dependency, loathsome relations and modern Gothic symbolism. Once past the introductory song "A Spindle, A Darkness, A Fever, And A Necklace" and a young child's, maybe one of Conor's own students, reading of an initially grim but final, lyrically juxtaposing moral tale, the album settles into what can be heard and read as moments of pure catharsis. I almost believe Conor, or the protagonist in "The Calendar Hung Itself...", when he confesses over an inspirational and uniquely rocking "Cha-Cha" beat, "I drug your ghost across the country and we plotted out my death/In every city, memories would whisper, 'here is where you rest'." Maybe it's the chilling and thematic imagery in "Something Vague" that has me so easily identifying with this songs particular poignancy.

Submersed under the lyrical heft are the inner workings of what appears to be a pet project of Mike Mogis. Along with Mike's brother A.J., Bright Eyes contributing musicians this time around also includes Andy Lemaster, Matt Magin (Cursive), Jiha Lee, Tim Kasher (Cursive), Joe Knapp, Todd Baechle (The Faint) and Clint Schnase (Cursive). Interrupted only once by an apparently staged and disinformative informational interview, Fevers And Mirrors is testament to the quality of recordings that vital independent labels are releasing today. To be seen now as an important, if not momentarily genius, work of musical craft, this will hopefully not stand as a still young, Bright Eyes' masterpiece.
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