Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews



Author: Beth Ochoa
04/11/2007 | The Student Life | | Album Review
Conor Oberst is at it again, and not in all the best ways. "Cassadaga," Bright Eyes' tenth album release, starts off just as "I'm Wide Awake and It's Morning;" with a distorted, obscure and a bit unsettling spoken word intro.

Sadly, unlike previous uses, it falls flat. "Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)" is over six minutes long and could easily stand to shed a few minutes. There seems to be little point to the woman ranting about what we should be doing in order to understand the psychic nature of Cassadaga (Cassadaga, Fla. is the 'Psychic Center of the World').

The album is riddled with love songs. Not in the way anyone is used to, but in a very Oberstian way. "Make a Plan to Love Me" is sadly not one of these. The song is trite with each few lines begging the unnamed recipient to do exactly the title. Lame-o-la. The main problem is, after songs like "Bowl of Oranges" and "Lover I Don't Have to Love," no one is going to buy into a song as conventional and scripted as this.

Luckily, "No One Would Riot for Less" redeems the entire love song genre. The song describes the coming of death due to, among others, "a holy wall of fire." Yet, in the middle of running he wakes his love. "So wake, baby, wake / but leave that blanket round you / there's nowhere as safe / I'm leaving this place / there is nothing I'm / planning to take / just you, just you."

"No One Would Riot for Less" brings to mind the sad songs of "Fevers and Mirrors," despite the full sound of haunting backing vocals from a variety of artists. One of the more remarkable aspects of this album is Oberst's ability to match the pared down sounds of folksy middle-America he's been known for with the full orchestral sounds provided by the arrangements of Nate Walcott. On this album more than any other, it is obvious why Walcott and Mike Mogis are allowed to be the only other permanent members of Bright Eyes.

The finale is well deserving of its place. "Lime Tree" manages to hold on to the mood of the album while baring more of Oberst's personal thoughts on private matters. The sound itself drives home the mood of the song, which is made evident in the second line, "Since the operation I heard you're breathing just for one."

Though, truth be told, the LP takes a bit to grow on you, which is not to say it isn't worth the wait. Overall the release promised more, the first new material since Jan. 2005, the expectation of the true passion and soul like we saw in "Lifted, or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground" was warranted. Listeners wanted that same catchy flare.

Bright Eyes no longer wraps the pure talent in a listener-friendly package. The artists seem content to let each nugget of musical happiness be found in its own time. While this is sometimes dissatisfying, being spoon-fed is relaxing.


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Cassadaga (Remastered)

Cassadaga (Remastered)

LP / CD / Cassette / MP3


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