Bright Eyes is like the light beer of signer/songwriter bands: all the great flavor and full body of frighteningly honest lyrics and passionate conviction as the normal edition, but without all the annoying baggage and pretense usually a part of the lyrically oriented brew.
Painting stark visions of the desperation of daily life, Bright Eyes finds the skeletons in everybodys closets, hanging them up in the yard like drying laundry. Its an odd assortment of skeletons, however, striking up a much more demented and forsaken world than the ones existing in the average listeners head, though somehow songwriter Conor Oberst plays with themes rooted in everyday life, giving Every Day and Every Night a grim familiarity despite its treacherous directions.
Comparisons between lyrics and poetry are tossed about so wildly these days its hard to truly appreciate songwriting like Bright Eyes. Poetic could describe it, but then again, Courtney Love, Chris Cornell and Beck also earned the distinction. Its often a distinction founded more on self-affected bohemian angst than actual lyrical merit, though this time around Bright Eyes helps substance win out over image.
When jumping between themes of self-destruction, mortality and soured love, Bright Eyes cranks out some of the most hauntingly familiar and disturbing lyrics set down this year. With the honesty of artists like Patti Smith and the grueling brutality of Richard Hell, Oberst creates a lyrical world all to his own. From the obsessive "On My Way To Work," creating a simmering stew of death anxiety to the downright frankness of "A New Arrangement," Bright Eyes manage to find the most deeply hidden and tightly wound heartstrings to pluck on.
Musically, Bright Eyes proves a little less challenging, with a mixture of keyboards, acoustic guitars and Obersts squeaky vibrato tenor heralding a record sounding like early Violent Femmes quickly going off the deep end. Fairly slow arrangements, this record nonetheless features swirling complexity in its musical tracks, helping to stand behind its lyrical vision. With a few curve balls thrown to spice things up, such as the backwards sampled back beat of "Neely OHara," or the pedal steel of "A New Arrangement," Bright Eyes musical tracks manages to keep up, albeit a few paces behind, its lyrical mastery. -- Aversion