Author: Lee Zimmerman
Throwaways or prime material? Your view – and comprehension – of Bright Eyes' oeuvre will likely determine your perception. Culled from obscure B-sides, compilations, singles and rarities, Noise Floor is essentially a stopgap effort in lieu of a new album that's due next spring. In truth, it's just what its name implies, a collection lo-fi, atonal offerings, most of which were recorded well before the band evolved into indie acclaim. While last year's double bill, the simultaneously released I'm Wide Awake It's Morning and Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, brought its young musical mainstay Conor Oberst to a wider audience with the first hint of a more accessible sound, Noise Floor effectively rolls back the clock to that period when Oberst was immersed in the indie ethic. Many of these pieces sound like home recordings, to the extent that lead-off track "Mirrors And Fevers" is largely background noise that only belatedly gives way to Oberst's somber acapella vocal. "Amy In The White Coat," "Weather Reports" and "Seashell Tale" also maintain an unadorned ambiance, but nearly every track features the same scratchy rhythms, the off-kilter arrangements, hushed, disconnected vocals and Oberst's oftentimes warped ruminations. ("All my friends were vampires/Turned out I was a vampire myself in Devil Town… ") It's strange stuff, and not likely to induce the uninitiated, but the devoted fan will most likely find it an essential indulgence.