Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


Lifted or The Story is in the Soil....

Author: GH
08/14/2002 | Other Music Catalog | | Album Review
The newest Bright Eyes album is Conor Oberst's most accomplished
record yet with the wordy twenty-two year old finally growing into his emotive growl. For the lengthy titled "Lifted or the Story is in the Soil Keep Your Ear to the Ground," Oberst's self-torment is tempered, dramatics still present, but now with an authenticity (and dare I say maturity) that's been lacking in his earlier releases. (In other words, his lyrics don't sound like pages read from a teenager's poetry book.) This time Oberst is joined by Azure Ray's Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor as well as the Faint's Todd Baechle, and the ending result is a 73-minute long player which earnestly sweeps through a diverse range of styles and fidelity. The opening track, "The Big Picture," is probably the closest resemblance of earlier Bright Eyes material with Oberst emoting exaggerated angst over a sole acoustic guitar; but then the mood shifts. The dense orchestration of "Method Acting" builds into a controlled frenzy and ends as he expels an exasperated gush of words that sounds lifted from a Cure song. The waltz pace and string arrangements that follow in "False Advertising" provide acinematic touch while Oberst parodies himself as the tortured performer. A few stripped down recordings interspersed throughout "Lifted" serve as reminders that this is a Bright Eyes album, but the lo-fi moments are always followed by a more elaborate track. The pedal steel driven "Make War" and also "Laura Laurent" are not only examples of Bright Eye's most direct flirtations with Americana but also succeed in traveling over backwoods paths similar to the ones that Silver Jews and Will Oldham have crossed, lamenting lost love and singing grandiose tales from a post-modern heartland. Although lengthy and exhilarating, "Lifted" is no doubt Bright Eyes' finest record to date.