What’s the Deal with Bright Eyes?

Free WinonaIs Bright Eyes really all that? The 23-year-old Nebraskan singer/songwriter (real name Conor Oberst) has been turning up regularly on critics’ “Best Of” lists and drawing consistent praise for his talent, including his new record, Lifted, or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground. He’s a founding member of Saddle Creek Records, the center of a newly-hot music scene in Omaha which includes bands The Faint, Cursive, Azure Ray and Oberst’s own side project, Desaparecidos. But attention is shining particularly on the flirtatiously named Bright Eyes. His youth, raw emotionalism and productivity—he’s released three full-lengths and countless EPs and 7″s—create the aura of a romantically burning poetic spirit. Inevitable comparisons to Dylan have been trotted out, as well as Robert Smith, whom Oberst himself names as a big influence. And it’s not just American critics who are enchanted with the waif-like Oberst—the Brits are getting on board too. An article in the Guardian UK gushes: “Part of what makes Bright Eyes so exciting is Oberst’s obviously passionate belief in the ability of songs to communicate ideas. Lifted is gloriously wordy, more scathing and verbose even than early Dylan.”

Whoops. Brits have a tendency to get American soul all wrong. Bright Eyes is nowhere near as scathing as early Dylan—he’s a much gentler, if less acutely intelligent, spirit. Dylan wrote songs directed against specific people; Oberst writes sprawling odes directed all over the place, but most criticism is reserved for himself. “Verbose” is accurate for Oberst, who could stand to edit his songs, but he’s verbose in a completely different way from Dylan. “Long songs” is the only thing that really links the two. Dylan’s command of his lyrics, which derived their color and punch from years of devoted imitation of heroes from Woody Guthrie to Arthur Rimbaud, was in the beginning and remains head and shoulders above Bright Eyes’s. (I fully accept the old-fogeyhood that remark condemns me to.)

All this may be holding Oberst to an impossible standard (no “new Dylan” has been anything like Dylan, anyway.) Though his lyrics are often cited as a strength, they’re deliberately formless; critic Greg Kot points out they’re less song lyrics than prose poems, bursts of verbiage that fall loosely into a verse-chorus-verse structure. Oberst is good at writing catchy tunes, but what I find strange about his work is that his words often seem at odds with the music. On Lifted‘s “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves,” a song about a suicide attempt that landed the singer in a Chicago hospital, a bouncy rhythm and torrent of vague verbiage obscure the impact of the situation. By the end, you have no idea what he’s been singing about. Another song about the media scrutiny Oberst has felt since becoming well known (“False Advertising”) is sung to a lilting, sad melody, strings and other orchestral instruments pushing the mood to a surging romanticism. It’s hard to imagine remembering these songs, because they’re going in such opposite directions within themselves.

Oberst is a sincere fellow, without a doubt, but on Lifted his presentation is both melodramatic and coy. He does his material a disservice with gimmicks meant to distract the listener from the solid, radio-hit-type melodies he’s singing. (He’s the Eric Carmen of indie rock.) The record starts with almost two minute’s worth of recorded conversation—a few friends driving to the practice studio, it sounds like. The first song, “The Big Picture,” sneaks in almost from the background, which is kind of a neat effect, the first time. (If it were on vinyl, I can imagine skipping past the first few grooves every time I played it.) “The Big Picture” is a lovely melody practically buried in disaffected attitude. The guitar, slightly out of tune, is barely audible. The best effect is when a woman sings softly along with a recorded Oberst, whose voice is way back in the mix. All this gimmickry takes away from what should be an effectively presented, decent song. The song ends with Oberst bawling the final word in a startling outburst. You’re listening in shock when suddenly his yelling is cut off, silenced. I think that cut is even worse than the out-of-control emotionalism he gives vent to. Instead of letting us hear him process it, he lops it off as if taking the whole thing back. The moment suggests a cake-and-eat-it-too aspect to Oberst’s personality that’s off-putting.

Sometimes Oberst hits it right. He’s good at building melodic tension and crashing into a noisy chorus with just the right intensity. This works on the song “You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will,” a song about a departed lover. It sticks in your head afterwards, despite the clunker of an ending: “If you don’t, I’ll start drinking like I was before, and I just won’t have a future anymore.” Wham. Oberst often writes ‘on the nose’ like that. The famed production rate of his labelmates at Saddle Creek Records—SPIN reported Oberst is the slacker, writing only one song a day—is probably responsible for the careless moments in Oberst’s lyrics. He’s aiming for abandon and he achieves it, but it’s too bad he doesn’t value subtlety a bit more. What do you want in a singer/songwriter—total honesty, or a good rhyme?

Lifted is ostentatiously rough-hewn—it’s practically the equivalent of an artist’s paint rag in place of the painting. The record is littered with incidental noise—casual conversation, an old record needle’s static, unidentified soundtrack clips—but such gestures drape unnecessary clutter over a group of pretty, singable songs. Oberst has a knack for writing tuneful, memorable, if not startling melodies. They tend to be simple and have the aura of drunken sing-alongs. In fact, the singer he reminds me of the most on this album is Leonard Cohen—the sense of willfully drunken abandon, the Euro-pop, horns-and-strings instrumentation. Sadly, Oberst lacks Cohen’s developed poetic gift. But he may decide it’s worth working on.

What lifts Oberst’s songs above the mediocrity of many of their lyrics is his sense of melody and his honest voice, when you can hear it. It’s likable, and when he isn’t over-pumping the emotion, it sounds genuine. But his unstable singing style and the bloated endlessness of many songs makes me imagine an SCTV skit with a Rat Pack-type old hipster approaching Oberst to give him advice: “Look, kid, you got a good sense of melody. But you got to get a good beat going, and then just sing the damn thing—get in and out. Don’t keep singing when you’re done. And don’t scream. Just get in and out.”

Oberst gives himself away on one of the final songs, “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves.” This song contains the lyric, “I do not read reviews. No, I am not singing for you.” (Good, because I’m about to squash him like a baby robin.) One verse goes: “My teachers, they built the retaining wall memory, all those multiple choices I answered so quickly. And got my grades back and forgot, just as easily, but at least I got an A.” What self-respecting romantically self-destructive folksinger would even bother to get an A, much less tell about it in a song? No, it’s part of the lopped-off-howl syndrome—there’s a wish to be both breast-beating and modest. Conor Oberst is like the most talented kid at an open mic, bursting with conviction but devoid of the honest cunning of a mature artist. He wants to be loved and he wants to tell us he doesn’t care if he’s loved or not. It’s human to be mixed up, but it doesn’t make for great songs. Not yet anyway.

82 thoughts on “What’s the Deal with Bright Eyes?”

  1. okay, I feel I should atleast put some kind of argument in his defense. Not being one’s typical idea of a Conor oberst fan (that being a whiny, teenaged emo girl who uses Conor’s songs as nothing more than as signatures on the saddlecreek webboard), I really think too many people tend to overlook the kid’s talent, which he actually has a lot of. Yes, he kind of brings it on himself, with all the melodrama and occasionally painfully bad lyrics. Yes, he gets a little pretentious, with Lifted’s storybook-style jacket and sometimes drawn-out-yet-going-nowhere type of songs. And yes, there are some songs that just plain suck, “Bowl of Oranges,” “Nothing Gets Crossed Out” being a couple. But songs like “Method Acting,” and “Laura Laurent” show just how talented he can be. So that’s my point: when he puts away all the melodrama he actually is an amazing songwriter, and I think unfortunately too many people miss that. Also, before you make up your mind altogether on Bright Eyes, check out the album before Lifted, Fevers and Mirrors. Its a much more coherent and lyrically strong album than Lifted was. Good article though.

  2. Boo. I feel like this guy is very, very overrated. I wanted to believe the hype, but after a few tries at his material I gave up. Apparently people adore him and his band though so he must be doing something right.

  3. i respect you for going against what seems to be the critical grain, and yes there are plenty of flaws in LIFTED. the only thing that i will say though, is that you relly can’t say he’s not a good lyricist. do your homework. did you read the lyrics, did you listen to them? seriously. homework.

  4. Hold up E, I don’t think the article says he’s a bad lyricist, per se; after all, ‘mediocre’ and ‘vague’ are a long way from bad. Seriously. A long way.


  5. i love bright eyes, but i agree with this article. conor’s press as “the new dylan” has people approaching his music in the wrong way. dylan has certain talents that conor can’t live up to (lyrics), and conor excels in areas that dylan didn’t (pop song-writing). comparing the two is unfair to both musicians. the only thing i would take issue with is the writer’s complaints about bright eye’s production, though i see what she’s saying if she’s only listened to lifted, which is a little “sonically contrived”. at their best though (mostly on 7″s and compilation tracks), bright eyes is capable of some of the best, most creative production and arranging work out there.

  6. I think that you stressed and backed up your opinion quite well. Not saying that i agree with you, but i do have to give you that.

  7. If you’re looking for the better-than-great version of Bright Eyes, check out Sondre Lerche. Now THAT kid has talent.

  8. Everything negative you had to say was backed up only by stuff off of Lifted. Did you bother to listen to any of his other releases before criticising his lyrical abilities?

  9. Yes, and I agree with steve-o who said Fevers and Mirrors is better than Lifted. It’s also less fussy production-wise. I also liked some songs on the EP Every Day and Every Night. But on each recording, I found a few songs that grabbed me melodically, and plenty of honest emotion, but more lyrical clunkiness. That kind of wrecks things for me, as I’m a real lyrics person.

    The ’emo’ artists I admire (Cat Power, Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince Billy, Smog, David Berman of the Silver Jews though he’s not really emo, just simple and brilliant) all work with unusual metaphors and images. To me, that’s much more persuasive than ‘selling’ a song with the conviction in your voice. But that’s just my take. I have friends who love Bright Eyes. I do expect someone with his melodic gift will write many more good songs.

  10. Well no one will ever be the next “dylan” because its a title thrown around so loosely now (it was used to describe ryan adams for a bit).

    I do disagree with you I love Lifted, and I love the lyrics.

    But it is a very good article, because unlike most bright eyes writers, you actually listened to the music, got the title of the cd right, and didnt spell conor “Connor”.

    nice job.

  11. …yeah

    does it matter? if you like it, listen. if you don’t, don’t.

    i’m just fed up of hearing the same thing.

  12. Conor’s lyrics are really, very honest and beautiful. He sings emotions and he does it in his own way. Usually, you have to have experienced them to understand. He isn’t trying to be something he’s not.

  13. Good article.

    Your sentence that Oberst “wants to be loved and he wants to tell us he doesn’t care if he’s loved or not” hits it right.

    It’s almost like he throws things like the first track and the fuzz and the footsteps and so on to stop you at the door. If you make it through there is great stuff but you really have to want it.

  14. Conor Oberst isn’t Dylan, he isn’t even Eric Carmen. He’s a tactful emotional string puller who’d have you believe it’s all genuine. It’s one thing to try to pull emotional strings with your music (Eric Carmen for example), but it’s a sin to cloak that emotional string-pulling in faux confessional lyrics that ultimately ring hollow. Someone should post that link about Conor’s Desaparecidos appearance in Grand Rapids. All rock star poses and bluster. I thought his anti-sprawl lyrics were genuine until I saw him moaning all over the stage. It’s all an act, but he blurs the line between his act and true confession. He is a total retard. He also can not sing a lick. Eric Carmen would blow him off the stage, even in his 1987 “Hungry Eyes” years!

  15. Whiny spoiled brat trying to show everyone how “sensitive” he is. Ugh. Also, has anyone else noticed how much this kid’s voice sounds like Pauly Shore?

  16. To all you people ripping on Connor Oberst:

    Do any of you know him, I mean personally?

    That said, I’m guessing the answers will all be, “no, I don’t know him.” Then how can you call him a whinny spoiled brat who isn’t genuine? Believe me, I was one of the most pissed off people at the Bright Eyes show, here in Omaha. That would be the show that he was on stage for about 40 minutes, played for 20, eventually smashing his guitar into a million pieces and storming off the stage. The kid’s melodramatic, no doubt, but to him that was all real, unless, he’s even got his friends fooled.

    As far as the dylan comparisons…”And the jelly faced women sneeze and the one with the mustache says, ‘geeze, I can’t find my knees’.” -Visions of Joanna, Bob Dylan. You’re right Oberst can’t write lyrics like Dylan.

  17. i couldn’t really tell weather you were trying to state that conor’s music is good or bad.

    well either way i think he is very talented and one of the best songwriters i’ve ever heard.

    in “lets not shit ourselves” well conor is just writing what he knows.

    who are you to judge him? i dont’ see you making any big record deals.

    by writing these articles it’s only for people to come and shit on you.

    so why even say anything?

  18. i do not understand why people have to compare musicians. every singer/songwriter/band has their OWN sound. there is no new dylan and there never will be. (interpol is not the new joy division, the vines arent nirvana and on and on) it is just so ridiculous to even spend time arguing for or against the new dylan thing (and any other comparision for that matter). anyway, i agree that on lifted he should have been more subtle. his earlier works i like (especially every day and every night) his use of imagery and metaphor on those records is pretty good. however, i do not agree that he writes “catchy” tunes, i would never describe his music as such nor would i ever expect to hear one of his songs on the radio. i dont think his voice is all that radio friendly. but i do think he would make a great short story writer.

  19. I like Bright Eyes, and I too saw the show where he smashed his guitar that he’s played for years. He’s melodramatic, but everybody is. And if you think you’re not, you’re the one acting. I think his songs are not “subtle” and are “careless” because he’s careless and not subtle. He tells it how he sees it.

  20. damn where do people get these notions in there head that contrastingand comparing will help…with this long drawn out story i dont no what to think…oh wait i do…the wrighter og this stroy doesnt like connor oberst. there setteled no one should conplain

    its not that type og subject where debating helps.


  21. oh my god…some ppl care about grades.me not personaly, but still dont say or imply that every singer song writer doesnt give a shit

  22. Well, it’s about time someone writes an intellectual album review. I can’t fucking stand to read the crap people call reviews. Critics just love to dismiss albums with a catchy phrase, shoot off 20 other “sounds like” or “blank meets blank”, or overly glorify someone for 600 words. It’s lazy writing, and I’m glad someone is out there actually attempting to back up their statements with hard evidence, and not just writing opinionated hogwash. Kristy, you made my day. Someone had a good point about the comparison to Dylan. It’s true, Bright Eyes doesn’t have the poetic subtleties of Bob Dylan, but that just means he has a different writing style altogether. FACTS, PEOPLE!

  23. ps.

    don’t anyone use the word “emo” to describe music. I don’t think there has ever been a song worth listening to that wasn’t emotive. emotion is art, and music is art. a band can be sappy, and in doing so, may suck in your opinion. but putting some feeling into a song IS WHAT MAKES IT A SONG. “Emo” is vague and misrepresentative. It can’t describe a genre of music. And right now, it’s getting thrown around more than grunge.

  24. Conor is the most talented musician in the whole wide world. He can do no wrong, and his lyrics are so powerful. I can spend forever just trying to dig deeper and finding out what he really means. If you don’t like him, thats too bad, but thats no reason to get on his case.

  25. You either love connor’s music or you hate it. If you hate it and criticize it, you just don’t understand it.

  26. Music is there for listening to not writing essay on thats what you to get your grades at school. The only similarity (other tani see between Dylan and Oberst is that they both just make me want to learn the giutar. Now track down Joan of arse’s Distant hearts, a little closer, a band with out any hype but deserving of some attention.

  27. i tried to read that seriously, in all honesty, but it just sounds like you’re offended that bright eyes isn’t mainstream. really. “sometimes [he] gets it right.” what does that MEAN? what is RIGHT? how can you even consider a right and wrong in music? the music industry has become so disgustingly formulaic that we are now actually listening for a specific pattern: the right start, the right build, the right intensity, and the right end. blah freakin blah, all music sounds alike.

    though i’m a huge fan, i’ll say that a lot of bright eyes’ musicality is lost for effect. but the effect is deliberate, and expressive of exactly what he set out to do- thus, the album is an accomplishment in the artistic sense. since it’s an expression of some human feeling, it will have an audience. you’re just not it… and you should take that into account before dishing out judgement and “analysis”.

    dylan’s songs were political. conor oberst’s songs are emotional. the comparison is that both are compelling, very much so, and while dylan revolutionized music, conor oberst simply breathed new life into an over-commercialized and highly predictable setting, capitalizing not on the musicality of his songs but his sound in general, not the likability of the songs but the effect, the meaning, the words. bright eyes is the heart-wrenching portrayal of adolescence, not DESPITE the chaotic and unstructured vagueness, but THROUGH it. my only explanation for why you don’t get it is that, well, you’re OLD. sorry.

  28. isn’t it obvious from all the posts above this one that music is personal. some love bright eyes, some don’t see the big deal, some even hate it. doesn’t change anything, the music’s been made, concrete, and it either touches you or it pisses you off. why analyse it?

    isn’t it human nature to have mixed feelings about most things?

    didn’t kurt cobain want to be world famous but to remain “cool” with his MTV-hating friends/mentors (Melvins)…? and look what happened to him…

    i’m sure any of you out there who think for yourselves will agree that the music industry is very screwed up… i’m just glad that there are still bands/labels out there doin it for the music

  29. Look, quite simply, the author of this piece has absolutely no idea what music is about. She reminds me of the people who were telling REM that they should put disco drums on Murmur to enhance its commercial appeal. A lot of older people approach new music with a real high-handedness, like nothing could ever live up to anything produced in the 60’s. I respect that people are sentimental for old music, and that’s the way it’s always going to be, but they really shouldn’t preach about new music they clearly don’t understand. Dylan is hysterically overrated, he was important for his time, but as John Lennon pointed out, he dressed alot of garbage up as poetry. Just about every argument Kristy puts forward is ignorant or invalid (e.g. the juxtaposition of sad lyrics on upbeat tunes is a really fantastic musical tool used by just about every brilliant musician from the beatles to bowie, the smiths, belle and sebastian) There’s not much point in going on further, the article is shite and reading it is a waste of time which should have been spent doing something else. Furthermore, i imagine that if you’ve read this comment posted way down the page, your probably procrastinating from some task you should be doing. This is the message you’ve waiting for. GET BACK TO WORK!!!

    p.s. i thnk bright eyes is great, along with gorky’s zygotic mynci, one of the really fantastic bands which you owe yourself to check out. “If Winter Ends” is my favourite Bright Eyes song and the one i would suggest interested parties hear first. IF you like it, you’d like everything else.

  30. It does get melodramtic at times, but as someone else said, so do we. I’ll admit that some of the lyrics in Lifted seemed like a bit much to me, but I still love the album. His lyrics aren’t nearly as vague as most of the stuff out there. Why do so many bands feeling the need to make the meaning so obscure and hidden? I actually understand what he’s saying.

    Why can’t he scream? Why can’t he have an unstable singing style? I’m feeling it so much more when he’s doing that. His singing style is what makes the band stand out and what makes them great. If he “sang” everything it wouldn’t be nearly as powerful and their music could easily just blend into obscurity along with tons of other stuff out there.

  31. Great article…but i belive conor is a pure genious, thoe some songs do show no genious watsoever, other songs are master-pieces. Befor anyone makes anymore judgments, if you are yet to hear “Fevers and Mirrors”, you have yet to hear the pure genious of Conor Oberst.

  32. I think each song is derived from a very honest place, whether Conor knows it or not. You can’t fake the feelings he creates. You have to take a painting for what it is. Lyrics are mixed up, lost la la la etc. but that is probably the point. I know this is somewhat realized but to what extent? He really feels that way, his lyrics sucking is a total opinion on something you can’t begin to understand. In anycase this art judgement crap goes way too far. Conor creates a world (esp. on Fevers & Mirrors) that I love and the songs run together well etc. etc. etc… It’s just amazing art. It’s great for what it is. The only thing I ever judge musicians on so harshly is their genuinety or basic creative drive. Like If they sound completely redundant or completely insincere. The rest is apples and oranges.

  33. no, no, no. i cannot read one more “bright eyes are great” comment. i hate that it’s come to this. this guy ain’t sheeee-it people.

  34. What I don’t understand are all the people who not only judge the music, but the people who listen to it.

    “Oh, that’s ’emo'”


    “The only people who listen to that are sucidal and little 16 year old girls”

    Do not disreguard what you do not know or understand due to stereotypes.

    You can like whatever the hell you wish.

  35. i don’t know i really must be a child of the 21st century, because i listen to bright eyes a lot more than my dylan albums, not to say that dylan isn’t a fantastic lyricist, which he was. but dylan was a writer of his time, his lyrics/songs were mostly for that generation, i think conor oberst really is the voice of this generation, i mean i just find bob dylans, lyrics a lot more simple than conor oberst’s… but i don’t know i guess bright eyes just feels a lot better to listen to, since, it’s not a 40/30 year old singing it.. and the lyrics relate more to our times.

  36. and another think what is wrong with emotions??? believe me, that guy who wrote the song for the movie robbin hood, would you criticize him for having fake emotions??? i mean shit you have to have something to write about, i mean you write, what you feel you must write… i feel the lady who did this article is wrong…. if you have heard any of the new bright eyes songs you would realize that they have surpassed dylan, in their impact and their story matter, i.e. one foot in front of the other, the trees get wheeled away, ….. but that’s just what i think, and i think i know more than you…. grams

  37. Obviously Kristy Elredge is thinking way to hard. Im sure she has an opinion about the color of the sidewalk. Though the article is well composed and she brings up alot of arguable points, I think she is missing the entire point. So he’s pretencious at times, so he’s melodramatic. So what. Don’t write an article just to make people contridict themselves about why they like a cetain band. The point is Conor Oberst makes beautiful music. She critique’s cetain situations that obest talks about in his songs. “a bouncy rhythm and torrent of vague verbiage obscure the impact of the situation.” etc. etc. But most people would’nt know where to begin if they wanted to put something like that on paper. I don’t know this all kinda sounds preachy or not. I’ve lost my train of thought. Bright eyes makes quality music. writing this was strictly out of being board so dont take it seriously. what. the phones ringing, i think its mr. eyes.

  38. I thought the criticism was pretty in depth, especially the point about track on of ‘lifted’ putting people off before they have a chance to hear it properly, though I think the willfully perverse nature of Conor Oberst’s performing and recording personna is more of an endearing quality than a hinderance… He makes some acute observations, but much of what he says is lost in creating spectacles and being shocking…but the fact that he does it so obviously means that you accept it all, instead of picking out the bits you like – after all, an artist is that, not someone to mould to your own identity or preferences.

    This feels very involved for a sunday afternoon.

    Toodles, x

  39. it is hard to argue the point of music. either way someone will bash u for ur paradigm on how music should or shouldnt be. but i can tell u that ur review absoltuley reeked of underlying hatred for someone u dont kno. u should also realize perhaps that yes- conor oberst is self depricating but isnt that what music is? a show of emotion? u were being the least bit melodramatic in ur explainations. so before u judge realize that it will come off as suppresive b*** s*** to anyone that enjoys it. thank u.

  40. Everyone’s getting so up in arms about this subject and I suppose it’s justified, people tend to want to defend things they hold close to their hearts. I don’t see why anyone has to really take the piss out of music with comments like “this kid ain’t shite” or something else inane like that. Bright Eyes is really still developing, and while everyone recognizes that he has so much work done thus far, he’s still only 22 and still has some things to learn. I hate the term Emo. It’s stupid because it’s short for EMOtion, and that’s kind of necessary in music for it to last (success, no. Look at hair metal). Dylan was good for the time, but while some lyrics were good, others were trite and absurd, like in Visions of Joanna. He was bought out and I have heard his music played on commercials for the Royal Bank of Montreal (“The Times They Are A’Changin'”) and in Wal-Mart of all damn places (which is where I work, regrettably). I hope Oberst never does this, but he’ll probably never have the commercial success to get the chance. Still, I think this article was well thought out and an honest opinion stated about the artist. You can’t knock on that, it’s our right and everyone reviewing is also exercizing it (despite the fact that many have contradicted themselves by saying things like “You can’t go around bashing an artist without checking the facts.” For 1, it seems that the writer has done their homework, and for 2, even if they hadn’t, they still have the right to bash it anyhow. However, saying things like “You don’t like it because you’re old” or “Anyone who doesn’t like it just doesn’t understand it” is just posting cheap, cop-out responses to a well-written piece of review. They didn’t like it, that’s that. Defending an artist is not necessary if the music is as good as Bright Eyes is; the music will speak for itself.

  41. -x- like the x from jamison parker? I love conor oberst….he compels me to keep going in my life. One day i hope to be on saddle creek…ill never give up the dream though

  42. personally, i think bright eyes is a great band

    (or guy, actually) that writes ’emo’ music that appeals to ppl in their teens and twenties (even older…i mean, my dad introduced me to bright eyes last christmas)….and im just glad to see a guy who’s putting out some honest music and is kinda making it…i mean, im tired of all the incubus, linkin park shit….its pretentious, obvious and disgustingly fake. its about time that a real band/guy comes along and plays some really good music. its too bad he doesnt get more radio and mtv/vh1 play

  43. The great thing about Conor is he doesn’t give a fuck what you think about his music. So, why waste your time writing such a long, thought out review or whatever about him and his music? His songs make sense to him and that’s all that matters. He perfectly portrays the confusion of many young people. His songs are COMPLETELY honest and tell exactly how he feels.

  44. i love bright eyes! those who dont like it ,don’t undrestand it. those who love it can see out side of the black box that is around them. conor’s thoughts and emotions are put in to every lyric of every song, so respect it .i dont see those who hate him makeing record lables and selling albems. i have heard almost every song he has recorded and i have not really found any of the songs to have corny lyrics, yeah some you have to get use to but they are still good.

    i just wish he would come to chicago more.

  45. I agree with Greg. Kristy Eldredge had her point of veiw stated in this writing. You don’t have to agree with her views. But, at least give her credit for her work. Bright Eyes has beautiful music. But, they have a lot of maturing to do still. They still have much room to grow. Considering he is only twenty-two. All these people defending Conor as if he were a God need a reality check. This is an article written by someone with thier own points of veiw. If you dissagree so strongly find a page and write your own article. Also, having age has nothing to do with your taste in music. I think Bright Eyes is lovely they jst need to grow up a little bit.

  46. I fully respect the author’s opinions, and if Conor is too melodramatic or honest for you, that’s fine

    Personally I think one of the reasons I LIKE Bright Eyes is the fact that it’s the antithesis of everything in music today. Pretty much everything you hear on the radio, from pop to hardcore, is slicked over and cold and unfeeling, all these bands (especially the likes of “new garage”, which I can’t stand) are trying to look cool and emotionless.

    The raw honesty of Conor might seem overdone, but he essentially HAS to go to this extreme in order to neutralize the sterile music that almost every other artist is putting out these days.

    PS: The excerpt from this article about “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves” made me laugh. Conor isn’t bragging about getting an A. You really must think low of him to even consider that, lol.

    Read the lyrics. I interpret it as him saying that most teachers don’t actually teach anything, they just spoonfeed you certain concepts so you’ll do well on a test and forget the content a week later.

  47. psh, i think we should just respect people’s opinions and keep to our own. if you want to have an intelligent discussion about bright eyes, that’s completely fine. but that’s not really what seems to be happening right now because people think they know conor better than he knows himself.

  48. I hope you aren’t referring to me. I was respectful of the author’s opinion, but come on, to use a lyric like that as an example for discrediting his music is ludicrous.

    I can accept if she doesn’t like his voice or the message of his songs, but a misinterpreted lyric is a bad support for an argument. To say he’s bragging in that song is utterly ridiculous.

  49. Bri: I find it hilarious that you’re telling us to respect other’s opinions.

    Why can’t you respect the opinions of those who disagree with the author? You say the Bright Eyes fans act as if they know what Conor is saying, but so does the author of the article!! Where’s your crticism of one “Kristy Eldredge”??

    Of course we’re all entitled to our opinions, but we’re all allowed to express them as well. It’s a free forum of ideas. I think my opinion’s right and that Kristy is dead wrong, and I’m gonna say so.

    If I were to say that she’s missing the entire point of Bright Eyes by overanalyzing it, then that’s my opinion. Deal with it. Bright Eyes is about pure emotion and gutteral instincts. It’s not about pristine vocals or polished musical scores (although polished music is certainly acheived on several “Lifted” tracks)

  50. Reviewing a style of music you aren’t into is pointless. I hate virtually all rap, so any review I write about a rap record will be inherently negative.

    It appears this author doesn’t like “overly honest, emotional” music from “tortured-soul singer/songwriters”, so why review the album at all unless you clearly state that you’ve got bias against it?

    Bright Eyes is certainly becoming something of a sub-genre unto itself

  51. woah fun comments..i spent about an hour reading through these laughing at people ripping on each other..thanks it was fun..ps i looove bright eyes..but ani difranco remains my goddessss…and if anyone has any ani critism ill take you right here right now..shoot

  52. Hello there everyone. I came by this site by accident whilst checking out another great artist called Jason Molina, and then thought I’d do a Bright Eyes search. Flippin’ eck! You lot sure do have plenty to say about Conor Oberst- which is a good thing. At least he encourages debate. How I wish, though, that I’d thought of the line ‘not the next Dylan; the first Oberst’. I’ve never posted a message before on any site (that’s probably patently obvious by now) but I can’t resist this. First of all I am a Bright Eyes fan, although definitely not ‘teenaged’, I am according to my kids, certainly ‘whiny’ and definitely over-emotional. Oh yeah – I’m also a Brit. Does that explain things? Well, I want to just say that I’ve been listening to music and going to live gigs (hate that word!) for well over 40 years now. This summer I was taken by my daughter to see Cursive and then Bright Eyes. Cursive I loved (and The Good Life) but Bright Eyes were something else. I’ve never experienced the dramatic hush that filled the hall at Manchester Student’s Union, as soon as Conor began singing in his warbly, trembly little voice ‘Spindle’.I have to admit that my first though was “shit, this kid’s not gonna make this” but within seconds as the song picked up pace and he relaxed into it, he just took off and soared. The crowd whooped. His band were amazing too. Something I don’t think any of the people posting touched on. Mike Mogis is a little genius – not only playing several of the instruments on stage, but producing records for Saddle Creek too.

    I understand, if not agreeing with, some of the more negative points people made here. Conor can come across as self-indulgent and pretentious, but I genuinely don’t believe he’s any of those things. Has he ever said that all the lyrics he writes are about himself, just because they appear that way? OK, I know he uses his brother’s name and Omaha and stuff like that in his songs, but that doesn’t mean that every word is about his own personal experiences. He has imagination too.

    I believe music has special properties and it never fails to heal, soothe, excite and inspire me. At least that’s what I get from Conor’s lyrics – that’s before listening to the music too! Some of my favourite Bright Eyes songs (Kathy With A K’s Song and I’ve Been Eating For You)have amazing lyrics to but I don’t get much from the actual music. (Check out ‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’ and ‘Something Vague’off the Saddle Creek 50 album.)

    Well, sorry for going on a bit. I guess in the end it’s all about personal preferences and tolerance over other people’s taste in music. Not something I have much of, tolerance. But then here in the UK we are deluged with a constant flow of artificially manufactured boy/girl bands who can’t write their own material, play their own instruments, sing without it being dubbed on first in a studio, or even choose their own clothes or hair style. Mind you – I saw Madonna the other day miming to what I suppose is her new single – it got ludicrous when she contined to mime to the male rap part!! Now there’s someone who deserves your criticism.

  53. don’t you guys have anything better to do than trash on a guy who is trying to vent?

    I think that everyone who sits here and gets all pissy about his lyrics and music should just STOP LISTENING… because it’s really no one’s business to trash on anyone.

    Why don’t we all just give the guy props for having the guts to put all that crap out there and leave it alone?

  54. well its my personal belief the man is a dam genius, fevers and mirrors is nothing but genius excluding the second track, which happens to be my favourite, i wouldnt be able to go near conor without sexually assaulting him, i love his music, either appreciate it, or forget about it, why criticise? bailey

  55. actually i’m a guy

    yet fevers and mirrors stil makes me cry

    p.s. listen to full collapse by thursday, it has the same effect

  56. yeh i know what you mean, an extremely thought provoking album, fevers and mirrors, haligh haligh a lie haligh, impresssively depressive.

    thursday indeed, that album also makes me cry, on the bus once, maybe we’re just sissies.


  57. I don’t doubt that it was “work” for the author of this arcticle to listen to Bright Eyes from the way the whole thing read, but she should have saved herself the trouble. I constantly doubt the need for critics of any kind – I mean think about it; surely you’ve read at least one bad review of a band or movie that you love. If we put any stock at all in what they say, without experiencing it first hand, we end up missing out on all sorts of things that we’d really enjoy. The fact that people get paid for this is astounding to me, but I digress….

    Starting comparison between Dylan and Obest is just going to end up like a highschool cafeteria food fight. Both artists deserve emmense respect, i.e. being appreciated for their own respective works without having it stacked against other records that it has nothing to do with. I know a lot of people that had been starving for music like Bright Eyes, something aside from cookie cutter emo, punk and radio rock, and they love it just as much as I do. That said, it’s certainly ok to not like it, just see for yourself before you take some random review for true.

    (By the way, if you’ve read this far, you owe it to yourself to post.)

  58. ok, i wanna stick up for conor too..

    i’ve been a bright eyes fan for a while, after a whole heap of scary coincidences (fate?) made me buy fevers and mirrors. obviously, like any album, it’s not to everyone’s taste – my friend came to see bright eyes with me a few years ago and sat in silence throughout cos it’s not her sort of thing. me, i was mesmerised,by the lyrics, the music, the raw emotion conveyed, and the performance. conor seemed agitated to say the least, i for one believed that it was all genuine. yeah, sometimes the lyrics arent great, but no band is consistently amazing in all aspects. i met conor a couple of years ago, and we talked for a while about music festivals and other artists we admire. though i’m sure it’s a moment that hasn’t stuck in HIS mind, it has in mine – i mean, he even waited with me for a while because i was alone waiting for someone to meet me, and he apologised to me for the cutting short of the set he’d just played. he seemed like a really genuine guy, not at all like some ‘poor little rich kid’ like so many people seem to think, and the experience has only made me respect him and his music even more.

    if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it, cos for every one person who doesn’t, there’ll be many more who love it. just don’t try to ruin it for us, eh?

    sorry for the length of this, but it had to be said!

  59. everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and most of you make valid points, but i only have to disagree when you criticize conor’s lyrical ability. just think about all the crap out there that got much more credit than it deserved. on the other hand, the majority his songs have actual meaning. they contain the combination of simple progressions and words put in such a way that they create a type of beauty that can rarely be found. a song isnt about how complicated something is said, and its a shame that some are judged in this manner, its all about how it is interpreted and what you can find in that interpretation, and if you can find some kind of satisfaction in what he is trying to say, then go with it…just think, conor obviously has some sort of talent, or else he wouldnt even be getting such a great reputation….

  60. i just do not understand why people say Conor’s lyrics are sub-par and every line in a dylan song is a mastrpiece. in many dylan songs, dylan would rhyme the exact same syllable for the whole verse. His rhyming words would be like “some, gum, and rum”. Not to say that made his songs bad, but i feel that conors lyrics are more creatively rhymed and the way they flow hit me in the right spot.

  61. I really like conor oberst’s songs. I can’t think of them as painfully bad. He’s talented and he has just a unique way of recording his stuff. If people would listen to the words then they would make sense.

  62. I always like when people who don’t really enjoy or understand a musicians stlye and then review them. To me Conor Oberst and the band Bright Eyes are incomparable to any other music out there. The sound…it’s unlike anything else. When I hear a Bright Eyes song, I feel sort of tingly, happy I guess. I could listen to any song at any time and while listening to it, nothing else would matter. If Oberst left out the pointless added sounds and gimmicks, it wouldn’t be the same. I wouldn’t get the feeling that I get now. Bright Eyes to me is something pure, honest. You can bash it all you want, people who like the band, probably don’t really care. It’s sort of pointless you’re writing this article. People who don’t like or listen to Bright Eyes wouldn’t read it, and people who like and do listen to it won’t agree with you. It’s nice you have opinions, but music shouldn’t really be commented on or picked apart. Yeah, it could be better, but it’s not yours to change.

  63. I’ve been through this article and all the reviews that follow underneath it so I think it’s only fitting I add my own opinion to this chain.

    I think this article was nicely laid out. Obviously the author got their point across. Interestingly enough there has been much controversy by her/his use of Conor being far form the next Dylan. I respect that opinion but at the same time I resent all the controversy about him as an individual.

    To be honest none of us should be judging him. The thing that most people can’t draw the line at is whether they are criticising the music or whether they are criticise the artist.

    Many people say he’s “a whiny retard” and he is all about “acting all pensive”. I think that is perfectly alright. No one truly knows what they are all about. There is no one word to describe who you are or what you are all about. Conor’s music is for not only himself but for us. He’s not suggesting everyone should go cry about their supposedly dead brother but he is suggesting we take some time to revaluate our world. And isn’t that what music and art is about? Revaluating our world, although he does inject his own beliefs into his music, who doesn’t? Music is about spreading your feelings and if people somewhat relate to him or gain new insights I think he’s achieving his message.

    So stop trying to figure out if he is fake or not. Humans were created fake and Conor is no exception. All he wants to do is offer new ways of looking at things.

  64. mindless mindless mindless,

    Who are you guys to know what connor thinks. What he really means with in his songs. He wants to give new perspectives for you to look at things. Anthen you guys barely even appreciate his poetic lyrics that mean so much in this world today..and that includes “bowl of oranges”.. could you think of something so unpredictable and so enjoying as “your eyes must do some raining if your ever gonna grow” ..apreciate it..bitches..either that or you just dont understand where connor is comming from..kthxbye!

  65. Ok, Conor is awesome at what he does. I can’t stand how people compare him to this artist and this artist, mainly Dylan, but it just isn’t right. Conor is an artist himself, not a carbon copy like many other “musicians”. And, to that other guy, Ryan Adams is a genius.

  66. By the shear amount of music Ryan Adams releases, his legendary ID should be pressed. For me he’s a cross between Neil Young and Morrissey and I consider him to be one of the best at the moment. Oberst is no where near the writer he is or Elloitt Smith was and for him to be compared to Dylan is plain dumb. James Walsh of Starsailor is great too.

  67. i hate all you people judging conor. he shouldn’t get ANY mtv/vh1/radio play, becase mainstream sucks. if he did get any i know a lot of people that would be pissed off, including him. yes lifted is his WORST record, because it is more mainstream then the others.

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