A "real" Bright Eyes fan probably wouldn't say this, but this is by far the most cohesive, coherent, mature album this group has put out to date. A few years ago I hated Bright Eyes with a passion. A handful of decent songs clued me in that Conor Oberst had some kind of talent, but it was very difficult for me to get over the whiny, self-indulgent pity party he seemed to want to throw on every album. 16 year old girls find this to be very impressive, I understand. Males in their mid-thirties usually don't. In a word, Conor Oberst was OBNOXIOUS.
That's why this album comes as a huge surprise. Incredibly well constructed songs, inticing production, intriguing lyrics and concepts, an overall sense of well-being and hope as opposed to despair and self-pity, this album shows a depth I honestly thought Bright Eyes did not possess. This album is on my turntable constantly! Every song is a gem and, while the narrative ramblings of Randy Brewer might be confusing to some, I find them to fit rather well with the overall tone of the album. I am immensely glad that Conor cleaned himself up and is able to show the world what he is capable of. I hope he changes his mind about dissolving the Bright Eyes moniker as well. It sounds to me like these guys just found themselves.