Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


Fevers and Mirrors

Author: Matt Bovett
10/01/2001 | Metronome Music Community | | Album Review
Rating: 7.5
Similar: Elliot Smith, Modest Mouse, Pedro The Lion

Every once in a while in a blue moon a young artist will emerge from their basement and get a reaction out of everybody who listens to him. Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes) is one of those young artists. He's twenty years old, has already released five albums worth of material, and has a strong knack for writing sad songs.

How would I describe the music on Fevers and Mirrors, Bright Eyes' second full-length LP? First of all, this is the most hi-fi of the three Bright Eyes albums. The other two are very loose and lo-fi. The album opens with a messy sample of a child reading a sad story aloud. The first song, "A Spindle, a Darkness, a Fever, and a Necklace," follows the sample. The music is secondary to the lyrics in this track. Conor sings with his fragile, shaky voice over a slow yet complex noted guitar melody.

The second track, "A Scale, a Mirror, and Those Indifferent Clocks," ups the tempo of the album a little bit and features flutes, synthesizers, and piano. It leads into perhaps the fastest song on the album, "The Calendar Hung Itself," which features tribal beats, ferociously-strummed acoustic guitars, and Conor's lovely train-wreck of a howl.

The fourth track, "Something Vague," would be the single of the album if there ever was one (there wasn't and isn't). Most Bright Eyes songs have key "moments" where shivers are sent up your spine, the hairs on your arms stand on end, and your legs sprout goose bumps. For me, this song has several of those moments.

"The Movement of a Hand," the fifth track, features a neat Radiohead-esque bass line and piano melody, but still manages to be one of the more disposable tracks on this album. The next song, "Arienette," starts off a little on the boring side, but gradually builds into an very intense song. This isn't one of the songs you'll likely want to listen to over and over, but it serves its purpose on the album.

If you're like me, you'll most likely want to skip over track seven, "When The Curious Girl Realizes She's Under the Glass." It's hard to listen to. The song was recorded live with Conor at the piano often screaming the lyrics at the top of his lungs. "Haligh, Haligh, a Lie, Haligh," is track eight and is quite a song. They experimented with this song the most, as you'll occasionally hear some country twang! Oddly enough, it fits perfectly.

Track nine, "The Center of the World," is another standout track. It's the only song on the album to feature distorted guitar. Toward the end of this song, you're treated to a fun drum beat, and a catchy synthesizer melody. This song precedes "Sunrise, Sunset," a butchered version of the Fiddler on the Roof song of the same name. Bold move.

That brings us to the second to last song on the album, which has an infectious, borderline-bubblegum finale. It's called "An Attempt To Tip the Scales" and it's just a neat song. My only complaint is that it's too short. It fades interestingly into a mock interview. Apparently it's not really Conor Oberst being interviewed, but his friend. I think the purpose of the interview was to show listeners that they're not taking themselves too seriously.

In short, Fevers and Mirrors is a strong effort from a young artist. You might not think the instrumentation on this album is great (and you'd be wrong), but the passion, energy, and lyrical content is all there. I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for interesting frontmen. While most people dismiss him as merely "one to watch for," I'm already watching and will keep on doing so.
Fevers and Mirrors

Fevers and Mirrors

LP / CD / MP3


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Cassadaga (Remastered)

Cassadaga (Remastered)

LP / CD / Cassette / MP3


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