Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


Noise Floor

Author: Meg Walsh
10/27/2006 | The Maneater | | Album Review
When it comes to crooning about heartbreak, no one can outcry Conor. I am, of course, speaking of Conor Oberst, the carrier of the brain that gave birth to Bright Eyes.

The recent release of Noise Floor, a collection of B-sides and rarities spanning from his days of Letting Off The Happiness to Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, gives fans even more material to swoon over, complete with little notes about every song (where it was recorded, why Oberst likes it, where it first appeared, etc.) in the inlay from the man himself.

The album starts of as Digital Ash did, with jumbled noise of a crowd and random beeps (like a crowd while a band is tuning instruments) and the voices of girls singing "An Attempt to Tip the Scale."

The noise fades, and Oberst sings slowly and monotonously into the silence, apparently the only a cappella Bright Eyes ever.

The singing leads smoothly into the next track, "I Will Be Grateful for This Day" (2001), which is more techno-y and upbeat than the morose mood Bright Eyes is better known for. The song also features organ playing, which gives the song an uplifting feel.

"Drunk Kid Catholic" (2003) is a great example of the genius in the simplicity of Bright Eyes.

The song starts with a few lines of piano and Oberst singing, "The drunk kids, the Catholics/ They're all about the same/ They're waiting for something/ Hoping to be saved" followed by a verse. For the rest of the track, the opening lines of piano music are played with variations and Oberst and company singing the opening lyrics, then switching to "They crawl from the oceans/ To paint in the caves/ But I'm working all weekend/ I need to get paid." The song demonstrates how Oberst's lyrical writing and music can stay simple yet impressive.

As many people know, there are two sides to heartbreak. We all know Oberst's soft, sad, depressed side, but the track "I've Been Eating (for You)" gives listeners the hatred involved. Oberst's only note on the song is, "Probably the meanest song I ever wrote."

The song is very slow, nothing but Oberst and his acoustic, as he says lines of loathing such as "Yeah, you were just a song I wrote/ A poem on a page" and "But now you're more of a basketball/ Boys just pass you around/ They bounce you hard on the ground and dribble/ And then we all get high-fives." The song really embodies Bright Eyes' appeal. Everyone's been fucked over, and this is the song they will listen to and think back to those days when they felt the same way.

The album also features a cover of Daniel Johnston's "Devil Town," which was recorded in 2004 for the compilation album Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered. The track could pass for an early Bright Eyes work and meshes perfectly with Oberst's original work.

The problem with releasing a B-sides record is there is no progression. With the wonders of the Internet, most of these songs were downloadable before the album came out, and since all the songs are old, they fit into styles Oberst has shown on already released albums.

But it is Bright Eyes and it is amazing. He'll sell tons because we love him and feed on his every word.
Noise Floor

Noise Floor

LP / CD / MP3