Cheer up emo kids, it's Bright Eyes!

    Two distinctive genres have been getting a lot of attention lately in popular entertainment press: the “”new Dylans,”” singer-songwriters such as Beck and Ryan Adams, and “”emo,”” an almost indefinable style of indie rock ranging from poppy Weezer to pissed-off … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. Bright Eyes has emerged as the best to marry these two seemingly opposing styles.

    Courtesy of http://www.nastylittleman.com

    At only 22, standing at 5’8″” and probably weighing close to 80 pounds, Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst doesn’t quite look the part of a formidable indie-rock poster boy from behind his unkempt dark mane. After releasing promising albums throughout his teens and co-founding the seminal emo label Saddle Creek, Oberst has finally created an album that fully capitalizes on his obvious talents. One listen to the scathing lyrics on the amazing “”Lifted”” or “”The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground”” should convince even the most cynical listener that this guy’s emo-tions are genuine. Lyrics like “”Fuck my face, fuck my name”” may not exactly look good on paper, but there is nothing but honesty in Oberst’s trademark quavering howl, which sounds more than a little bit like the Cure’s Robert Smith.

    Comparisons to other artists always come to mind when judging an emerging artist, but there is no mistaking Oberst’s voice or style for that of any other. Calling Bright Eyes emo is even a bit of a misnomer. Sure, the song structures meander, the lyrics are melodramatic and confessional, and the singing refuses to stay grounded for too long. However, lush orchestration complete with strings, woodwinds and even accordions complements Oberst’s wail perfectly, sometimes exiting completely to leave just Oberst and his acoustic guitar. The result is a stirring album of post-adolescent instability.

    The excess of the eight-minute-plus opener “”Big Picture,”” which ends in abruptly cut-off cathartic moaning, might deter the uninitiated listener. A closer listen reveals more tightly constructed pop songs such as the dark but upbeat “”Lover I Don’t Have to Love”” and indie poppish “”Bowl of Oranges.”” He still tries to pack a surprise even when burdened by structure, such as the self-aware instrumental break when he sings “”mistake”” on the waltzy “”False Advertising,”” which will make you laugh, grate on your nerves, or both. Oberst’s songs are full of self-deprecating humor, and occasionally, they are also inspirational. A line like “”Love is real/ it’s not just in long-distance commercials”” is at once hilarious, heartbreaking and painfully real when rendered by Oberst and his capable backing band.

    It is a known fact that people cry at Bright Eyes shows. Fans have all the dedication of Dashboard Confessional fans without the annoying campfire sing-a-longs. Maybe it’s because Oberst takes himself so seriously, saying things in interviews like “”It almost hurts to love things because they have to stop being that.”” What? No matter. Bright Eyes is indelibly effecting, so bring your tissue when Bright Eyes visit the Scene on April 12.

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