Connor Oberst has hidden under the moniker Bright Eyes for more than five years now, but he began recording in 1994 at the ripe old age of 14. From the start, his salted-wound confessionals and distraught delivery left precious little middle ground between fans and detractors. Some made him out as the indie Dylan or emo-Jesus; others called him a pubescent poster-boy for Zoloft.
The Omaha, Neb., native claimed to pay no attention to his underground celebrityhood since he only wrote for himself. That may be changing, however. Oberst said recently that Bright Eyes’ latest CD, titled “Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground,” was the first release where he was fully aware of having an audience. At last, the saturnine singer-songwriter appears ready to address the world outside his head. His voice may still sound like a cross between the Cure’s Robert Smith and a bipolar billygoat, but on “Lifted,” the edges of Oberst’s outbursts are softened by a 15-piece band, drunken choir and astonishingly lush arrangements.
Whatever you may think of his vocal style, it’s hard to deny the brilliance of his lyrics. Oberst may feel most comfortable wallowing in woe, but “Lifted” finds him peeking out of the hole he’s always digging to glimpse human life above ground.
Read the full review at The Japan Times Online.