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Bright Eyes | Letting Off The Happiness (Wichita)
Sometimes I really hate listening to Bright Eyes. I mean, aside from the fact that Conor Oberst, twenty-something story-screamer, has this unique ability of writing a perfect heart wrenching lyric, it would seem ?? effortlessly; he always delivers just when things are going fine... when I am coping. And so, with no messing about, on the first track on this new (to the UK) release, I'm studying the lyric sheet for comfort ?? and find none. Don't get me wrong, Letting Off The Happiness is not all grim. There is hope beneath those world-weary words. And it's the hope that somehow makes the overall bleakness okay. Musically speaking, energy levels are wide-ranging from angry and impatient to an occasional content plodding. I think the secret to Bright Eyes' music generally is the reality of it. The passion in which Conor sings (or screams) combined with the often gentle build of supporting sound, feels true to life every time. Padraic My Prince, the story of the baby brother drowned in a bathtub is so compelling that I must question that mock interview from Fevers and Mirrors. But it's the straight-talking lines like "And I scream / but I still don't know why I do it / because the sound never stays/ it just swells and decays / so what's the point?" (This City Has Sex) that convinces me. Bright Eyes are real.

Tracy Lee Jackson
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001