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03/07/2002 | Unknown | Album Review
Desaparecidos

Conor goes to college.

There are a lot of Conor Oberst haters out there, and I don't blame them. Either Bright Eyes appeals to you or it doesn't and I can see the argument for both. Personally, I really like Bright Eyes. Sure, I can't help but think "who the fuck is this self-absorbed brat telling me how bad his life is?", but I still can't help but relate to a lot of the things he sings about, so I guess that makes me no better (or less better since I don't get paid to sob on stage). But even more than his over-emotional delivery, his song writing is simple and superb. Perfectly timed, self-absorbed and obsessive; I haven't really found anything that captures the experience of being bipolar better than his Fevers and Mirrors album.
So, I get cynical anyway as the rest of the media eats it all up. As 14 year old girls line up around the block to see him play. As I watch him throw a fit on stage or say something really snide to a band member. As he plays up the "ooh, it's so scary to be on stage, I might run away" thing and audience members shout "it's OK, we love you." Ugh. The same reason I'm going to go see Sean Na Na instead of Cat Power for the third time in a few weeks.
Whoops, I didn't intend for that intro to be that long. Basically, what I'm saying is I like Conor, understand why others don't, and my natural reaction was to not want to like his new rock band Desaparecidos. It's like "What, did Conor go to college or something?" as he suddenly is writing these political anthems about chain stores, cul de sacs, and SUVs taking over Omaha. Or about the feeling of being considered a commodity over an artist/son. But, dammit if the delivery is darn perfect. The album is really high energy, poppy enough to appeal to college radio, but not friendly enough to reach beyond that. There's an abrasive and rough edge, but it's not out of sloppiness.
The lyrics are good and Conor's warbling voice, threatening to lose itself at any moment is well suited for rock. The guitars are driving and remind me quite a bit of Dinosaur Jr, who are still one of my guilty pleasures from time to time. There is a lot of personality and whether they are pretty boy opportunists or really feel strongly about the content, I have no idea, but if it gets kids thinking about this stuff, than that's what really matters to me.
Heck, even the CD booklet is nice. A sketch of a "planned community" on transparent paper on top of a lonely road and barren field.


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