Reviews

Fevers and Mirrors

Author: Michael Chamy
07/15/2000 | Billboard.com | www.billboard.com | Album Review
Dangling on the precipice between ecstasy and agony, young Conor Oberst, singer-songwriter and tortured leader of Bright Eyes, dramatically projects his inner demons for all to see on "Fevers and Mirrors," the group's second full-length, on Omaha, Neb., label Saddle Creek.

Taking cues from such contemporary underground singer-songwriters as Jeff Magnum of Neutral Milk Hotel and Will Oldham of Palace, Oberst uses a sharp scalpel to dissect his inner self, spilling his guts upon the listener in profuse fashion. It takes no psychology student to feel the manic depression and short-breathed desperation in the quivering voice of Oberst, barely 20 years of age.

"Two pills just weren't enough / The alarm clock's not going off but you're not waking up / This isn't happening / It is," Oberst shrieks with raw-throated desperation on "The Center of the World." He carries the theme further on "Sunrise, Sunset," in which his quivering voice wavers from one extreme to the other as the accompaniment builds from a quiet mandolin to abrupt bursts of electric guitar.

Instrumentalists/producers Michael Mogis and Andy Lemaster have smoothed out Oberst's furor with vibraphone, percussion, and various keyboards and organs, resulting in a much fuller album than Bright Eyes' 1998 rough-cut gem of a debut, "Letting Off The Happiness."

Though in the same musical ballpark as Neutral Milk Hotel's acclaimed "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea," "Fevers and Mirrors" leaves out the ornate, fairy-tale feel of the former, instead presenting a stark, naked glimpse into the starry-eyed aspirations, regrets, and self-loathing of one maladjusted manchild.
Fevers and Mirrors

Fevers and Mirrors

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