Bright Eyes has been compared to the Decemberists and Death Cab For Cutie by MTV. In another one of those cases where a band struggles for years to become famous, Bright Eyes has only recently become a well-known band after 12 years and 17 releases.
With the release of the Four Winds EP, singer and songwriter Oberst has been hailed by the press as "rock's boy genius" and "one of the best and most prolific songwriters of his generation." It doesn't hurt that the ladies seem to find him dreamy as well.
Genius or dreamboat, there is no denying that Bright Eyes has a very distinct and refreshing sound. They don't rap, rely on synthesized pop, agonize about life or wail about slitting their wrists to sell albums.
Instead of relying on these time and sales-tested gimmicks, Oberst, Mogis and Walcott pay homage to the indie-folk rockers of yesteryear with deep, soulful lyrics, simple instrumentals and easy listening. Yes, easy listening. No frills, just the music and the message.
Since it's an EP, which is a CD several tracks short of a full album, there's a sense of being gypped out of more good songs. Although there are only six tracks, Four Winds has already made its way into my regular playlist, which is quite a feat for any CD I review.
I find that it is great to play when I'm doing homework or taking a nap after a long day. "Smoke Without Fire" even sounds like a lullaby!
The great thing about Bright Eyes, though, is that when you get a chance to listen more carefully and look beneath the surface, they really do write great lyrics.
The content ranges from being welcomed home ("Come on in, my weary friend / The welcome here is endless") to when you just can't go home ("And the road finally gave me back / But I don't think I'll unpack / Because I'm not sure if I live here any more").
With Bright Eyes, there will always be a place to go. It may not be a place where everybody knows your name, but it's a start.
Bright Eyes will be on tour in the United States until June. Check out the band's MySpace at www.myspace.com/brighteyes.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3