Another section of reviews?
Well, the idea goes like this.
Three friends and music lovers, coming from different musical backgrounds, listen and talk (ok, write…) about certain records that draw their attention.
You can read their opinions, each time, collected in a small article.
Let’s start with Bright Eyes comeback album,
Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was – 2020
- Pageturners Rag
- Dance And Sing
- Just Once In The World
- Mariana Trench
- One And Done
- Pan And Broom
- Stairwell Song
- Persona Non-Grata
- Hot Car In The Sun
- Forced Convalescence
- To Death’s Heart (In Three Parts)
- Calais To Dover
- Comet Song
A mixture of drama presentation, lyrical cynicism, and melody, all given through downtempo orchestral pop and distorted whispers. Bright Eyes are together again after 9 years since their last record, with pretty much the same recipe. To my ears, this sounds like the natural step after 2007 album, Cassadaga, having, more or less, the same background, but with a richer orchestration.
In “Down in the weeds”, Conor Oberst confirms his undeniable ability on writing melodic cynical songs. One and Done, Forced Convalescence, or Dance and Sing are some great examples of what the backbone of the record is made of.
Someone could say that the overall duration of the 14 songs included in this album might be long and I would agree with that. But sometimes the listening process seems to take a bit longer and that must not be the reason to overlook Down in the Weeds, cause you will find some great tunes in it, that would be a pity to be missed.
Last but not least, the album credits Flea and Jenny Lee Lindberg on Bass and Jon Theodore on drums, among others, follow the undisturbed Oberst’s’ vision.
Do I recommend it? Yes, sure but give it some time to reveal itself.
That is what Bright Eyes need. Time and dedication to the process.
The return of Bright Eyes -in March of 2020- with a single, “Persona non Grata”, put a smile on the faces of the band’s fans. In August and during this pandemic, Oberst Conor gave us 14 songs – poems in the aftermath of his brother’s death -in 2016- and his recent divorce. Melancholic, dystopic, and dramatic but also mature, lyrical, and harmonic are some of the words that can accurately describe this album. I think it reminds me mostly their first albums and more specific Cassadaga.
It starts with “Pageturners Rag”, a musique concrète audio collage, and as you listen to each track, you feel the need to pay attention to what Oberst is sharing with you. “Dance and Sing”, “Mariana Trench”, “Pan and Broom”, are the tracks that I listened to, again and again, so I could move slightly to their rhythm and sing along the lyrics. “One and Done”, “Stairwell Song” and “Persona non grata” on the other hand, are more deep, poetic, and narrative, ideal for introspection. The album could end with Oberst’s sad voice in “Hot Car in the Sun” and none of us would complain.
I’m saying that because every time I was getting tired after that, which cost me the opportunity to pay further attention to “To Death’s Heart” and “Comet Song”, to realize how rich in their sound and melodies they are.
In my humble opinion, it’s not a work that will be remembered as a masterpiece, but I would recommend this comeback album if you like the gloom and drama of Bright Eyes. I bet you will add a few beautiful songs to your playlists. I know I did.
How cohesive and relevant could a rock band and a rock album sound in 2020, especially since hip-hop, R’n’B music seem to rule everything?
This crucial question is rather imperative when someone is abstain for almost a decade.
The familiar folk-rock outfit of Bright Eyes is back in a weird manner that everything and nothing has changed…
The welcoming orchestral addition nods to Arcade Fire but in a non harassing way, while the typical Flea slap bass (in half of the songs) is quite flattering. There’s also a great deal of experimentation achieved by the unexpected musical instruments used to shape the final result.
Furthermore, the lyrical songwriting is appealing to me, with a melancholic sense, full of personal references, rather than a gloomy atmosphere that could easily tend to parody.
Did I mention how much I loved the choir?
Only thing that was a bit too much for me was the duration of the album (55 minutes) but it’s forgivable to someone that was away for almost a decade, right.
I guess rock bands could be and should be experimenting and reinventing themselves in order to keep being relevant and Bright Eyes is a great example of that achievement with Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was.
Go get the album here!