Bright Eyes
Digital Ash in a Digital Urn


3.5
great

Review

by The Katz brothers USER (183 Reviews)
July 19th, 2007 | 27 replies | 12,052 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Conor Oberst and co. explore dance music on the weaker of his two 2005 releases.

Roughly one year before every girl in my school decided to buy a bunch of his albums, Bright Eyes, the main project of Conor Oberst (the surprisingly young, though not as young as you would have thought by the way Rolling Stone or some other *** magazine described him to be) released two CD’s at the same time. The way they were set up (one was to be near entirely Folk oriented while the other Electronica based) it would appear to split up the sound of Oberst’s previous albums (melancholy and slow vs. melancholy and danceable.) A cool idea, to say nothing of the talent this might call for. The ‘boy wonder’, as they called him, released both records to rave reviews, with many hailing I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (the folksy one) as one of the albums of the year. Digital Ash in A Digital Urn (the electro one) was not hated ‘round the board, but like a little brother at a College graduation, it kind of got pushed aside as critics lined up to fellate Oberst for the Dylan-esque songwriting talents the former showcased.

But like I said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Digital Ash. It’s a really interesting, and fairly original record.

So I’ll begin this review with the song that prompted hundreds of young girls around the world to make a little extra room in the hearts (and a lot in their parent’s wallets) for Bright Eyes: Easy/Lucky/Free. It was a minor cable television hit, and for good reason too. Lucky is possibly the best song of the album, and easily top 3 off of the two releases put together. Musically, the band, or not really band per say, more collective (as up until recently, Oberst was the only permanent member of Bright Eyes) is tight, introspective and coldly moving. Melancholy was the word I used to describe the group’s songs previously in this review, and you’d be hard pressed to find to a better word to describe Easy/Lucky/Free. Rhythmic drumming, burbling samples and thick electronic bass mesh under a meandering, delayed guitar line and Conor’s powerful vocals to form the song’s impressively tense backbone. And as lame as it is to say, Conor really does have a certain power vocally, lyrically too. “I never really dreamed of heaven much/Until we put him in the ground/But it's all I'm doing now/Listening for patterns in the sound/Of an endless static sea” he muses, before the song rolls into a chorus, with Conor remaining in ‘deadpan vocals mode’ (which he keeps going until the song’s pulsating verses drops into a second chorus and even he can’t keep his voice from straining under the emotional weight.) It truly is a powerful song, a great choice for a single too.

It’s not the only good song on the CD either. The way Conor’s vocals contrast during the chorus of the brilliant drums ‘n keyboards based Gold Mined Gutted is truly a spectacle to behold. With one Oberst singing in a strained near Tim Kinsella-esque fashion and the other remaining as a constant ‘deadpan’, it makes for a cool effect, and the way Nick Zinner (yeah, that’s the guy from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs) threads electric guitar through the Oberst-on-Oberst rule-fest is equally impressive, leaving the mood triumphant as the chorus fades into a skittering mash of electronic drums and organ tones. Other highlights include the lurching tempo and lingering emotion of Devil in the Details (which is pretty great up until that wimpy guitar solo) and the mega fun syncopations of Take It Easy (Love Nothing).

On Down in a Rabbit Hole, Oberst and gang explore spacey electronica, trip-hop and Nintendo sounds, with impressive results. The song’s atmosphere is top notch, complete with a feedback-laden guitar freak out, lovingly glitched production and heavily cinematic string work. Conor’s neurotic lyricism matches nicely with the song’s depressing feel and contrasts perfectly with that of the following number (the aforementioned Take It Easy.) The album’s not all gold though (as evidenced by the disappointing span of average tracks during the middle section of the record.) but overall, it’s hard to find too much fault in Bright Eyes’ work here (especially when considered how much heart and soul he must have poured into the album’s superior brother). Some may have questioned Oberst’s motives here, but a few listens and surely they will be convinced.

- Joe.



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user ratings (415)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
July 19th 2007



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I figured someone would jump on this after Eliminator deleted his, but I guess not, so here's mine.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
July 19th 2007



2806 Comments


This has always been the only Oberst album I couldn't sit through, and I don't know why. Good job reviewing it though.

Also, this was 2005, not 2004.

Fort23
July 19th 2007



2474 Comments


Review is good, Bright eyes aren't bad.

Cadaveric
July 19th 2007



152 Comments


good review. my least fav. bright eyes cd and very dissapointing compared to i'm wide awake.

ps. jungler, did you see my post in the joan of arc review

The Jungler
July 19th 2007



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I hadn't seen it, but I just sent it after you reminded me. Enjoy the album, I just can't get enough of it lately.
nice e-mail address by the way :lol:

iamrockzorz
July 20th 2007



1029 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I want to like this so much more than i actually do.

Oblivioncry
July 20th 2007



601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i really like this album unlike the other conor albums, which are way too whiny^^

Two-Headed Boy
July 20th 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Goddamn this album is really boring.

But great review as always.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
July 20th 2007



4926 Comments


I never bothered to pick it up. WOOOO.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2007



6085 Comments



Goddamn this album is really boring.



But great review as always.


chris21
February 27th 2008



159 Comments


oblivioncry what album was too whiny for you?

incubus62086
February 28th 2008



147 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

amazing album. you skipped the better tracks to review the more mainstream songs though, wheres the love for Hit The Switch or I Believe in Symmetry (you have it as Sympathy tho on the track list)

BroRape
February 29th 2008



803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i bought this last night. i only listened to like 2 songs and went to bed. it was kind of boring. i'll listen to the rest tonight and rate it soon.

Eliminator
February 29th 2008



2067 Comments


i dont remember why i used to love bright eyes
maybe thats a good thing

xxbattery21xx
July 23rd 2008



64 Comments


Easy/Lucky/Free is a great song. I have yet to pick up the album, but I'm really into Conor's work so I'll prolly end up grabbing it.

foreverendeared
November 9th 2008



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album doesn't get enough credit

AtavanHalen
November 9th 2008



17927 Comments


That's because I'm Wide Awake was more popular.

KritikalMotion
November 9th 2008



2261 Comments


Probably get this next. After getting lifted... I'm wide Awake really seems uninteresting and kinda boring.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
November 9th 2008



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this album is sort of lame i won't lie

get fevers and mirrors

mothergoose
June 16th 2009



308 Comments


Dance music? Eh... I don't know about that. But I don't dance so who knows. The lyrics on this album are great.



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