Reviews

Fevers and Mirrors

Author: Douglas Wolk
07/01/2000 | CMJ Monthly | Album Review
File Under: Post adolescent pop
R.I.Y.L.: Leonard Cohen, Sunny Day Real Estate, Simon Joyner

Conor Oberst is one of those songwriters who puts lyrics first. Now 20 years old and on something like his sixth full-length album (counting the two he made with his old band, Commander Venus), he has words pouring out of him like something that's been shaken up until it's bursts its container. Fevers and Mirrors is a superb album, articulate and powerful on the subject of teenage heartbreak and self-loathing, and played (by the latest batch of musicians Oberst has called Bright Eyes) with confidence and subtlety. "The Calendar hung Itself," a post-breakup spasm of jealousy, finds room for a list of embittered questions, a series of visions that flirt with the idea of death, a couple of interpolated lines from "You Are My Sunshine," and a verse that starts "I kissed a girl with a broken jaw that her father gave to her/She had eyes bright enough to burn me/ They reminded me of yours," all in less than four minutes. Oberst prefers the slow simmer to the blunt statement, but he's capable of incredible emotional intensity- "When The Curious Girl Realizes She Is Under Glass" is nominally a piano ballad, but by its end he's screaming so hard his voice is fraying. Aside from a silly fake interview where Oberst feels obligated to explain his symbol-system, Fevers is overwhelmingly powerful, the breakout moment of a first-rate lyrical voice.
Fevers and Mirrors

Fevers and Mirrors

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