To the chagrin of most everyone old enough to realize that their high-school diaries weren't full of really deep thoughts, bozo journos have recently pegged Bright Eyes' singer/songwriter Conor Oberst as the successor to Bob Dylan's throne. One listen to the Nebraskan rock-folkie's teen-angst emo anthems and the sprawling, pretentious gibberish title of his band's latest full-length, however, and it's obvious that Oberst isn't following Dylan's path, but stepping up as the next Fiona "the world is shit" Apple.
Lest anyone doubt Oberst's ability to over-emote, Lifted...'s 13 dashboard confessionals prove that, more than ever, he can match Apple's angst even if he didn't one-up the 70-plus word title of herWhen the Pawn ... album. To wit: "You can save face but you won't ever save your soul — and that's a fact." That’s but one of many in(s)anely stupid nuggets of nonsense passed off as profundity here, his voice trembling with all the overblown passion of someone who means what he says, but doesn't know what the hell he's saying.
Which is the same ol’ shtick on Bright Eyes’ Fevers and Mirrors, the Will Oldham-shackin'-up-at-the-Neutral Milk Hotel disc that made Oberst an indie-rock cause celebre in 2000. What might’ve seemed almost poignant coming from a tortured teenager now sounds obnoxiously overwrought. Just ’cause Lifted... is the first album that the oversensitive guitar slinger has released since turning 21 doesn't mean that he's grown up or out of his navel-gazy angst.
Worse, now he’s subjecting listeners to the trials and tribulations of so-called fame. "Onto a stage I was pushed, with my sorrow well-rehearsed," he pisses and moans. "Now all that anyone is listening for are the mistakes."
Actually, Conor, after hearing the self-absorbed, pseudo-profound hideosity of Lifted ..., no one's really listening at all.
Bright Eyes performs Sat., Sep. 14, at St. Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit; call 313-961-MELT.
Email Jimmy Draper at firstname.lastname@example.org.