Reviews

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

Author: David Coleman
08/26/2002 | Noripcord.co.uk | www.noripcord.co.uk | Album Review
A lot has been written about Conor Oberst since he emerged at the tender age of 14 and as far as I can tell, there are two differing schools of thought. On the positive side we have the "Conor Oberst is a fragile genius" / "Conor Oberst is our Bob Dylan" angle. In reviews this inevitably comes attached to a long list of superlatives and while this surely makes Conor and his fans happy, it no doubt makes his critics gag. And when I say critics, I'm talking about people who through no lack of trying, just cannot grasp what all the fuss is about. Repelled by the acclaim this young musician has been liberally showered with, they opt for the "Conor Oberst is self-pitying whiner, a talentless fraud, and a big pretentious boil on the face of humanity" perspective, and they are more than entitled to their opinion.

On the opening two tracks of Lifted, Conor Oberst further confuses the matter (therefore making my job difficult) by providing both parties with adequate material to justify their contrasting opinions. Method Acting is one of the finest songs I've heard all year but in order to hear it, I am forced to sit through the 8 minutes of pompous drivel that is The Big Picture. Thankfully this lumbering non-entity of a song proves to be the only real disappointment of the whole album and once it's out of the way, Lifted more often than not shines. The string-swept False Advertising and the exhilarating Bowl Of Oranges initially stand out, only to be bettered by the vitriolic Dylan-meets-Syd-Barrett madness of Waste Of Paint. After this Laura Laurent seems rather tame, but the unfortunately titled Let's Not Shit Ourselves more than makes up for that, serving as a fitting close to the album.

So onto the conclusion. As you may have noticed, I do enjoy listening to Lifted. While I cannot deny that there are flaws present, none are great enough to hinder the album, and on a track-for-track basis it is certainly a resounding success. When Oberst hits the mark, he reaches heights that most other songwriters can only dream of, and that for me is the important factor here. Yes, he can come across as pretentious at times and his fits of screaming may be somewhat questionable, but one thing is for sure: when Conor Oberst is good, he is very good. Give Lifted a chance and be patient - you may well be in for a treat. 8/10