Saddle Creek | Desaparecidos | Reviews


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Author: Hunter Stephenson
06/11/2002 | | | Album Review
The majority of Bright Eyes fans have already copped this new side project CD from frontman Conor Oberst and been shocked, albeit pleasantly, by the difference in subject matter and tone.

With Desaparecidos, Oberst has shed his famed introspective banter and morphed into a teenage Ralph Nadar. The result is an album that allows Oberst to vent his escalating emotion about and towards American society. Each track is swamped in a sloppily drunk distortion as Oberst's emo-style vocal strain infests the heart with desperate urgency and the brain with images of kids rocking out in their suburban garages full of confusion and angst. Think Weezer with the BBC news in place of hacky sacks and wet dreams.

On "The Happiest Place on Earth" (sarcasm by the pound anyone?) Oberst confides "I want to pledge allegiance to the country where I live/ I don't want to be ashamed to be American/ But opportunity no it doesn't exist/ It's the opiate of the populace." Reading such lyrics may force those with cynical tendencies to roll a couple eyes, but when Oberst belts them out it sounds neither preachy nor bitchy. His dissonance is genuine and representative of heartfelt neutrality in the face of political affiliation or dreamy notions of utopia.

"$$$$" opens with an infomercial and once again lyrics like "we heard the business will boom if some people are removed/I know there's all body types, but we have just one size/I don't care if it's right/It's the dollar signs and the big bright lights/inequality franchised," can't help but provoke thoughts of humanism in the wake of Enron employee suicide and mass unemployment.

At just over 30 minutes, the album arguably packs more power and honesty than the evening news, and it's reassuring to hear a group of talented twenty year olds strike out at these problems via catchy pop rock.


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