Review: Bright Eyes – Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was

Bright Eyes - Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was

On “Calais to Dover,” the penultimate track on Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was, Conor Oberst and company erupt into a huge, catchy, and devastating chorus, one that has all the trademarks of vintage Bright Eyes. There’s Oberst’s famously clever wordplay, where he examines his paralysis (“nothing is changing”) amidst a divorce (“everything’s changing”) while subtly playing with the expression “to state the obvious,” which, in its final declaration, closes the song like a gut-punch.  Then there’s Oberst’s distinctively tremulous, emotive voice and the frantic energy that carries it; here Oberst’s trembling words pour out of him and, by the end of the song, he abandons words altogether and expresses his grief through a primal wail. And then there’s the glorious instrumentation, where a rush of pianos and shimmering guitars make the song feel massive—as they swell, it’s hard not to be swept up by the grandeur of the music and then, as Oberst’s clear vocals come into focus, be crushed by his sadness. The song encapsulates so much of the appeal of Bright Eyes: there’s often a simultaneous joy and pain in listening, as the group pulls you into their rich sonic world and then leaves you vulnerable to Oberst’s poignant lyrics. For these reasons, “Calais” is the standout to Weeds and one of the best Bright Eyes songs of the past 15 years. It’s also the album’s sole takeaway.

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Conor Oberst Talks With NME

Bright Eyes

Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes talked with NME about the upcoming album:

“I think it’s about the juxtaposition that we all find ourselves in,” Oberst says. “The human experience is what it is. It’s terrifying and it’s beautiful. There’s all the highs and lows that goes into being alive. Nothing is really unique to me. If this is the way that I’m going through life then there’s probably a lot of other people that are having a similar experience – love and death and all the middle ground.”

Conor Oberst Talks With The Times

Bright Eyes

Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes talked with The Times about why Trump isn’t mentioned on their upcoming album:

Bush had an ideology and the move to war was easy to protest. But comedians say it’s hard to satirise Trump because he’s the most ridiculous version of himself to start with and I find the same with writing. How do you approach someone just so diabolical and insane?