Oh Holy Fools
On this split disc, Omaha compatriots Son, Ambulance and Bright Eyes each ply their trade for four songs. Son, Ambulance proves more compelling: The opening "Brown Park" cloaks a love song in hazy domesticity, while the idealized wishing of "Katie Come True" provides some of the album's most unaffectedly beautiful moments. The group's contribution to Oh Holy Fools should raise expectations for their upcoming full-length. The quavering voice of Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst has caught some critical attention, but it's difficult to figure out exactly why. Through most of his four songs he sounds close to tears, and while his lyrics are often harrowing (see the almost-suicide note "No Lies, Just Love", which includes the lines "So I would like to be remembered as a smiling face/And not this fucking wreck that has taken its place"), Oberst's wordiness too often fails to transcend the prosaic. "Love is real/It is not just in novels or the movies/It is fact and it is standing here right in front of you," he sings on "Kathy with a K's Song", but an overly-emotive vocal does little to make those vague words persuasive. Self-pity trumps self-awareness in Bright Eyes' music ("So now I sing and drink and sleep on floors/And I try hard not to be annoyed by all these people worrying about me"), but the songwriter's faults will no doubt find their resonance in similarly depressive listeners.