Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


Oh Holy Fools

Author: Ryan Guffey
02/12/2001 | Lost at Sea | | Album Review
OH HOLY FOOLS is split between Son, Ambulance and Bright Eyes, each contributing four songs to the more than forty minutes of music. Son, Ambulance revolves around the songwriting of Joe Knapp, a long time collaberator with Bright Eyes, and this record marks their studio debut.

It appears that Ambulance won the coin toss, as the record opens with Brown Park, a roughly five-and-a-half minute piano solo. I say piano solo because that is what it sounds like on the surface. Listening closely, it's possible to hear a very faint but steady drum beat, distant voices, and various other instruments in the background. But for the most part, it's just piano, tinkling away. The piece seems remarkably simple at first, it's only hook being the unexpected tempo changes here and there. As the song progresses, however, it begins to diversify and expand and eventually peaks and leaves the listener with the realization that "maybe that wasn't so simple after all."

Next up, Bright Eyes with "Going For the Gold". Conor Oberst is at the controls, and as usual, he delivers a captivating narrative thinly wrapped and laced with acoustic guitar. Don't look for excitement in this tune, or on this record for that matter. There is not much to be found. As the tracks alternate between Son, Ambulance and Bright Eyes they sort of fuse together and become tangled (or maybe woven is a better word) like a silk thread.

What you will find on this record is quality storytelling and calm, beautiful melodies. This is not going to be a popular choice for play by thrill seekers or joggers or hip-hop fans or any number of other groups of people who lack the patience to let songs develope around mood and theme, but rather hope for the quick payoff of the driving backbeat or the cool catch phrase. The word "nookie" is not on this record.

The highlight of the disc comes at the very end, with the Bright Eyes track "Kathy with a K's Song". There is no doubt that this had to be the last song on the disc. As the ear has been hypnotised by the central portion of the record, this song continues that transiant state with Conor's shakey vocals and sparse acoustic guitar until about three-and-a-half minutes into the song. At this point, the melody is shattered as the band explodes. A deluge of organs and brass and strings rain down and wash away the peace that was built in the first 39 minutes of the disc. It is a beautiful climax, and a fitting end.

Oh Holy Fools

Oh Holy Fools

LP / CD / MP3