Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


Fevers and Mirrors

05/25/2000 | Seattle's The Stranger | Album Review
Fevers and Mirrors
(Saddle Creek)

Twenty-year-old Conor Oberst writes like a 20-year-old. He's not mature beyond his years, and that's what makes Fevers and Mirrors so alive. Bright Eyes' album is minutely, specifically, and almost embarrassingly confessional. But what could come off as trite or juvenile is, in Oberst's hands, a Catcher In the Rye for the lo-fi scene.

When you press down on flesh, the blood in that area is pushed away and the skin shows a white depression in its place. For most of us, that depression springs back after the pressure is relieved. But Oberst is permanently imprinted, at least for the purposes of his music. It's easy to put everything down; what's hard is to have faith. Instead of hiding your limitations behind fashionable irony or dismissing the things people hold dear with a comic barb, the brave thing is to find what is important to you and fight for it. And that means becoming vulnerable, leaving your soft, swollen, delicate parts exposed to whatever the world can fathom.

Bright Eyes exposes a romanticism that ignores sugary boy-meets-girl cliches without abandoning optimism, faith, and humanity. Oberst's voice shakes audibly on most of the songs, which are based around a simple acoustic guitar and vocals, despite the presence of instruments like the accordion, glockenspiel, pedal steel, and mandolin. The mood of the songs swings from pathetic to enraged, which should thrill fans of both emo and lo-fi indie rock with the dead-on portrait of the songwriter and his whims.

Fevers and Mirrors--the third Bright Eyes full-length, with considerably better production values than previous releases-is disturbingly intimate, a staring contest with the intense songwriting of a young mind absorbed in the minutiae of the present. It's as if Oberst loads every mellifluous moment with the question, "What is this life?"
Fevers and Mirrors

Fevers and Mirrors

LP / CD / MP3