BRIGHT EYES > Cassadaga

Like it or lump it, the eclectic six-minute sound collage that launches Cassadaga finds Conor Oberst fusing haunting atmospherics, filmstrip dialogue and dusty Americana as he takes his cue from “A Day in the Life.” In doing so, Saddle Creek’s own poet laureate sets the tone-rather brilliantly-for the 12 songs that follow.

Label: Saddle Creek
[Rating: 4 stars] 

Like it or lump it, the eclectic six-minute sound collage that launches Cassadaga finds Conor Oberst fusing haunting atmospherics, filmstrip dialogue and dusty Americana as he takes his cue from “A Day in the Life.” In doing so, Saddle Creek’s own poet laureate sets the tone-rather brilliantly-for the 12 songs that follow.

Crafted in a variety of approaches, Bright Eyes turn around with a thought-provoking assemblage of country rock winners (“Classic Cars”), torch songs (“Lime Tree,” “No One Would Riot For Less”) and expertly crafted chamber pop (“Coat Check Dream Song”). Thumping melodies steer “Hot Knives” and “Soul Singer In A Session Band,” each recalling The Pogues’ Celtic charms. Meanwhile the sweet, swooning “Make a Plan To Love Me”-replete with plucked strings and a Phil Spector-like production-may be the best affirmation that Oberst really is the musical brainchild hipster adulators have long insisted. Donning a number of musical hats-from the blasphemous yet celebratory charge of “Four Winds” to the shuffling ode to detox-ing known as “Cleanse Song” -Bright Eyes’ sonic captain never veers from the course of consistency with Cassadaga. Balancing optimism and somberness with a keenly majestic musical vision, Oberst has given us his masterpiece.

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