Bright Eyes
Lifted or the Story is in the Soil...


5.0
classic

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
August 31st, 2008 | 105 replies | 13,954 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: but you, but you, you write such pretty words

When you're walking down the street and a stranger smiles at you, does it mean anything? Here's someone that you've never seen before and will most likely never see again, flashing their teeth at you in a smile that may even reach their eyes. It shouldn't mean anything, but it's heartwarming in the sense that it's unnecessary and unrequited, and although you might not remember what the stranger looks like the next day, you still feel it and because of that, it means everything.

Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground is sort of like that.

Choosing the best Bright Eyes album is a difficult matter. First of all, most of the material is great, and second of all, most of it sounds different. Conor Oberst is one of the few artists who has released an album for everyone; it doesn't really matter what you listen to, you can more than likely find a Bright Eyes album that you enjoy to some degree. Whether you're into the more straightforward folk of his first albums, or the lyrical honesty of I'm Wide Awake..., or the predominantly electronic Digital Ash..., or the Western feel of Cassadaga, there's a Bright Eyes album for everyone. The best of the bunch, however, is 2002's Lifted.... A somewhat daunting album that clocks in at an hour and thirteen minutes long, it has more of a "musical journey" feel than other Bright Eyes records, due in no small part to the placement of the two longest tracks as its bookends.

Although he simplified things somewhat with the follow-up album I'm Wide Awake..., Lifted... sees Oberst adding layer after layer to his songs, but never to the point of excess. He certainly isn't afraid to add unpleasant and sometimes even unsettling sounds into his songs; the end of "Let's Not Shit Ourselves," the beginning of "The Big Picture," and the beginning of "From a Balance Beam" all contain disturbing samples and ambiance. This is a very dark album for Bright Eyes; while Oberst has never sugarcoated his sound, there was always a fairly pleasant vibe to his songs but this album has some of the darkest folk songs ever written. "Lover I Don't Have to Love" has a decidedly menacing and calculating mood, with a keyboard line that brings to mind a lullaby, and the string section in the chorus accentuates the minor key of the song even further. The bridge turns a complete 180 mood-wise, as every instrument drops out except for the keyboard and the drums, and Oberst's vocal delivery is fragile and touching, before the song reaches its soaring strings-dominated climax. "Don't Know When but a Day is Gonna Come" is without a doubt Oberst's darkest song, and it contains the most satisfying climax on the album, with choir-style backing vocals and discordant piano playing. Lifted... shows that Oberst isn't just another folk singer; he is also a master of creating a slew of different moods in his songs.

It's not all melancholy though. "You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will." and "Make War" are hopeful, cheerful ventures with Oberst's trademark simple yet catchy progressions and honest vocals. This is Conor's most interesting album lyrically, and the one that requires the most attention from the listener. Before moving toward a more blunt and forward writing style on his later albums, Oberst made heavy use of metaphors and interesting imagery while still retaining his honesty. Opening song "The Big Picture" has some of Conor's best one-liners, such as, "You can try and live in darkness but you will never shake the light/It will greet you every morning/and it will make you more aware with its absence at night," and my personal favorite, "So you can struggle in the water and be too stubborn to die, or you could just let go and be lifted to the sky." The topics are standard for Oberst - girls, politics, his own personal thoughts - but he was never able to pack so much lyrical variety within those subjects into any of his other albums as he did with Lifted.... The variety coupled with the fact that his writing style is more oblique than usual makes the album worthy of repeated careful listening.

So what is it that makes Lifted... the best Bright Eyes album? It has a certain sense of intangibility about it, a sort of ethereal nature that other Bright Eyes albums don't have. The songs seem to, at first, go through one ear and out the other - although that doesn't necessarily mean that you forget them after you listen, just that they leave you with a feeling that is, initially, undefinable. As more and more attention is given to the album as a whole, you can begin to identify that feeling, and if you expect me to tell you what it is...

Well, then you're just missing the point.



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user ratings (655)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SHOOTME
August 31st 2008



2393 Comments


On a Bright Eyes spree, huh?

good review, i like your style, if you know what i mean :naughty:This Message Edited On 08.31.08

ujuj
August 31st 2008



37 Comments


make war and lets not shit ourselves are awesome everything else sucks

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2008



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

but the catharsis

Bron-Yr-Aur
August 31st 2008



4405 Comments


ya good writing

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2008



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

wth where did you come from ? ?? ?

Bron-Yr-Aur
August 31st 2008



4405 Comments


dude ive been delivering bread for eleven hours

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2008



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

is that what you've been doing for the past year or so too

ujuj
August 31st 2008



37 Comments


bread being code for?

Bron-Yr-Aur
August 31st 2008



4405 Comments


fiber

ujuj
August 31st 2008



37 Comments


smoke dank fiber

AtavanHalen
August 31st 2008



17927 Comments


Fanfuckingtastic. No other way to put it, Morgan...I mean...Channing Freeman.
This is like the dump you took that said "Chan rules" times ten.

ujuj
August 31st 2008



37 Comments


chan why are all these people on yr. nuts all of a sudden

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2008



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

actually that was ujuj who said that, i just pasted it!

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2008



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

idk dude they will probalby go back ot hating me in like a week

taylormemer
August 31st 2008



4916 Comments


I'm already there! :thumb:

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
August 31st 2008



862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hell yes. Love this album. Another great review aswell, wish I could pump them out that fast.

AtavanHalen
August 31st 2008



17927 Comments


All Chan needs to do is post a bad review and we'll all go back to hating him.
Ball's in your court, sir.

ujuj
August 31st 2008



37 Comments


you should read some of his old ones then!

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2008



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lol

PatchworkNeurology
August 31st 2008



352 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Everytime a hurricane hits Mississippi's gulf coast where I live this is my album I listen to through out the whole thing.

Theres one today, fucking gustav, so lots of this cd will be listened to.

Amazing cd, one of his best.



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