Oh Holy Fools
Once upon a time, Son, Ambulance and Bright Eyes decided to have a contest: who, in four songs or less, could sound the most like Nick Drake? Son, Ambulance took the first stab, coming very close with 'Brown Park,' but landing a little on the upbeat side. Bright Eyes' 'Going for the Gold' hit close to the mark, as well, only missing points with a Zeppelin-esque flute and crescendoing angst in the song's last third. 'The Invention of Beauty' shows Son, Ambulance winning the contest, nailing Drake's sound in everything from guitar to vocals to lazy, minimal drums. The rest of Oh Holy Fools - The Music of Son, Ambulance and Bright Eyes (Saddle Creek) is devoted to slight variations on the same sound, with an inflection of '70s TV show themes thrown in for occasional variety.
Though it may sound surprising at this point, none of this is meant as an indictment against the album. The music is actually good. Familiar but pleasant, alternately subdued and engaging, and a definite improvement over the previous shared effort by the two acts, last year's Insound Tour Support Series No. 12. Though both albums exhibit a simplicity that is surprising to hear from the young-but-worldly-wise Conor Oberst and a talent and aesthetic that will ensure Son, Ambulance's Joe Knapp his fifteen minutes of fame, Oh Holy Fools is by far the livelier, better-practiced and -produced of the two.
Bright Eyes' audience seems to be a breed particularly fanatical about the object of their love; overall this latest release will speak those devotees-the innocent "holy fools" following their leader-who would march behind the morbidly charming Oberst were he go right over the nearest high cliff. Insistently pairing Son, Ambulance with him should eventually prove successful as the marketing trick that it's likely not intended to be. But will this album do it? Not for this fool.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / Deluxe LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3