Bright Eyes - 'Cassadaga'
Released Apr 10, 2007
As far as musical prodigies go, I don't think many folks would argue about the skills possessed by Mr. Conor Oberst. At age 27, the dude has already released like 3481 records, been compared to the likes of Springsteen, Dylan, and Parsons, and possibly most importantly, built up enough indie cred to last at least 50 lifetimes. His previous cd, 'I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning' was the bomb.. or to put in review speak "..yada yada..a stunning display of songwriting prowess" or something along those lines..so naturally I was uber-stoked to hear this new cd. I was so stoked I didn't even download this when it leaked..and I download literally everything. I cared so much about this release I wanted my first listen to be post-purchase..(thus making it somewhat special). So let's set the scene. ..and yes I realize it's almost 2 months later and no I do not remember how this initial listen happened so yes I am making it up but the point is the same, I assure you of that... There I was, sitting in my car with my exicing new Best Buy purchase in my lap, ready to be opened. I can barely contain my excitement as I open the cd (the album art is pretttty rad i must say) and put it into my car's cd player. The cd begins with something kinda similar to last cd's 'At The Bottom Of Everything' only much more obnoxious and not nearly as cool..but hey, it's the album opener, I can handle a clunker tune from time to time. It'll get better. Right? ummm right? As I listened on, my face contorted into an expression that I am currently unable to show you, with this being the internet and all, but I can tell you is the face that 'wtf???' would look like if 'wtf???' happened to be an actual documented facial expression. This wasn't my beloved Bright Eyes. This wasn't my beloved Conor with the high quality lyrics & passionate and pained vocal delivery that made me feel how important the songs really are to him. This wasn't a record of superbly produced lo-fi(ish) alt country/americana tunes overflowing with simple acoustic guitars and the occasional duet and powerful instrumental buildup. Ohhhh no it was not those things at all. This was a glossed over, trite pop record that's about as far from everything Bright Eyes spent years establishing itself as being as it can be. The production is ridiculous, everything sounds so large, so full, but so distant. The lyrics, generally speaking, seem rushed and are boring. ANNNNNND his voice. Oh his voice. Apparently it was determined that his quivering, fragile vocal style just wasn't good enough any more..and they go to great lengths to bring everything into the right pitch and tone and generally smooth it out. WEAK. I'm getting long winded, I know, but this cd really pissed (and continues to piss) me off and I finally have the chance to vent. Granted, there are a few pretty good songs on here and I'll mention them at the end, but they're not nearly enough to save this record from suckage. I understand that BE is making a conscious effort to widen the appeal of the songs and in the record industry it's all about the almighty dollar when it all comes down to it, annnnnnnnd based solely on what reviews I see on Amazon and similar sites, people seem to enjoy it. so more power to him for that. But I think it sucks, and my opinion is really the one that matters here. I'm all for progression Mr. Oberst, but not when it comes at the cost of the very integrity that got you where you are today. Douche.
(10%) Album Art/Packaging: 9.0/10
(30%) First Impression: 12.0/30
(30%) Musical/Lyrical Quality: 18.0/30
(30%) Relistenability: 13.0/30