Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


Every Day and Every Night

Author: JDS
11/15/1999 | Hip Mama | | Album Review
Your first association upon hearing the vocals might be Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, but having listened more closely, I think that Colin Oberst is an indie-rock Leonard Cohen for our times. Anybody can brood excessively and record the results with a four-track -- and thousands have. It's no wonder we all stopped listening a long time ago (except for the emo kids who were too young to have heard it all the first time around, so they've started all over again from the beginning). Somehow Oberst writes and records songs that transcend all that. He's even learning to play five-finger-style on his guitar, so maybe he'll become an indie rock Nick Drake.

Oberst's output under the name Bright Eyes is the latest example of an artistic tradition that dates back at least to Goethe's Sufferings of Young Werther. The hyper-sensitive protagonist in this school realizes all too clearly what is wrong with his human condition, and expresses it with devastating poignancy. The more he muses, the more clearly he sees, and the more poigniant his expression becomes. The brightest moment comes just before the flame is snuffed out - usually by suicide. Boys can become sooo fixated!

Intense feelings are the stuff that rock music is made of. It's no wonder that the best rock music is invariably made by young people. Some artists seem intent on deluding themselves into thinking that they can live the most intense moment of their lives 250 nights a year, ten years in a row. Tens of thousands of Fugazi fans are ready to believe. Every Day and Every Night does not sound like an artist in search of intensity; it sounds like an artist who's tormented by intense feelings, and singing about them in spite of himself. Check this passage from A Perfect Sonnet:

...and now you are laying in a bathtub full of freezing water wishing you were a ghost.

But once you knew a girl and you named her Lover and danced with her in kitchens through the greenest summer but autumn came, she disappeared, you can't remember where she said she was going to but you know that she is gone because she left you a song that you don't want to sing.

I believe that lovers should be chained together and thrown into a fire with their songs and letters and left there to burn, left there to burn in their arrogance.

You've pretty much got to be a teenager to sing those lines. I don't usually care to remember what it felt like to be a brooding teenage boy, but listening to Bright Eyes gave me no choice, and I give them
credit for that.