Oh Holy Fools
01/01/2001 | Stinkweeds.com | www.stinkweeds.com | Album Review
There is a word in Spanish, "sudat," which roughly translates as melancholy yet hopeful; there is simply no other word to describe the music of Son, Ambulance and Bright Eyes' split release, Oh Holy Fools. This also happens to be a great marketing tool, allowing Saddle Creek to expose a lesser-known band to a wider audience. The bands take turns on this split with Son, Ambulance taking the hopeful approach and Bright Eyes in the melancholy position. Son, Ambulance sounds like an emo band if they had a greater appreciation for 70s rock, specifically the Elton John/Fleetwood Mac variety. Their first song "Brown Park," is a lovely, piano-driven story of childhood innocence and a father's love. It's a sweet song, which seems to speak to an old best friend after a long time apart, reminiscing about the past and how great it was to be kids, and how much the narrator's son reminds him of himself. Bright Eyes offers up slightly different fare on the next track, "Going for the Gold," which is also an apt title. The line up is similar to that of Fevers and Mirrors, with Jiha Lee's flute featured prominently and the frantic, disturbed guitar and vocals of Conor Oberst holding it all together. The melody, while pretty, cannot hide the devastating, self-deprecating lyrics. On "The Invention of Beauty," Son, Ambulance trades the piano for a guitar, and the story of childhood for one of love and the pleasant routine of marriage. It is a nice song with a groovy bass line and sweetly strummed guitar, and just a hint of vibes. Next is Bright Eyes bittersweet love lament "Oh, you are the roots that sleep beneath my feet and hold the earth in place," again with those aching lyrics, in fact, the song ends "We share a name on some picturesque grave." Again, with the full-blown sound and production of Mike Mogis, Conor Oberst's writing gets more focused with each release. "On the Concourse," is the slowest, most depressed song by Son, Ambulance on this release. Just a meek, half-whispered vocal, a barely strummed guitar, a fluttering piano, and a thin, weak rhythm section make this a whimper. Bright Eyes also offers up their most depressing song, possibly ever, on "No lies, just love." An eerie, almost gospel sounding organ with a rise and fall bass line play background to a story of an aborted suicide attempt; "…we all get tired, I mean, eventually there is nothing left to do but sleep," heartbreaking. "Katie come True," Ambulance's last contribution, features a thoughtful, fingerpicked acoustic guitar, and thoughtful, hopeful lyrics of a blossoming love, a theme continued on Bright Eyes' "Kathy with a K's song." Often called "Love is real…" this songs lo-fi production adds to its mood, like waking from a drunken haze at dawn, watching the sunrise, and knowing that there's something better. Perhaps there is hope after all.
LP / CD / MP3