Reviews

Fevers and Mirrors

Author: Everett True
09/28/2000 | Portland Mercury | www.portlandmercury.com | Live Show Preview
I'VE BEEN LISTENING to the Bright Eyes record Fevers and Mirrors. It is haunted, obsessed--shot through with desire and self-immolating pain. It recalls the tortured poetry of Daniel Johnston, and the exquisite, early-20th-century cabaret of Bertolt Brecht. This is odd, because it doesn't have the same pathos as the former or a similar bathos to the latter. Perhaps that's because its creator, 20-year-old Nebraskan Conor Oberst, with his trembling, hurt voice manages, like Johnston, to capture the fear of being left behind so well; perhaps it's because Oberst also enjoys a rich, rollicking rhythm like all those decadent prewar Germanic types.

(Incidentally, Bright Eyes music is inextricably bound with that of Her Space Holiday. More than that, I'll leave you to discover for yourselves. You could be glad you did. Oberst first started detailing his desire and lack of fulfillment six years ago, as a 14-year-old prodigy in Commander Venus, and it seems a cult is bound to grow up around this opaque, mysterious figure. Shame they made High Fidelity when they did: Oberst would have been a shoe-in for the sensitive skinhead-type's favorite artist.)

Fevers and Mirrors is a supremely indulgent record. At one stage Oberst is interviewed on radio, and the track ends with more questions than it begins with. Fevers and Mirrors is also a richly rewarding record. There is such obsession here, you see. Why make pop music if you don't feel these depths and depravity of emotion? Perhaps the fact that Oberst is a lapsed Catholic has something to do with his unquenchable desire. All I know is that within the spindly, lo-fi grooves of songs like "The Calendar Hung Itself" and the pivotal "A Spindle, a Darkness, a Fever and a Necklace," there is beauty and intensity of emotion that is rare to find nowadays.

This man is playing your fair city. I would advise you to go along and do the decent thing. Swoon.
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