"The fever is basically what ever ales you or opresses you, it can be anything. In my case it's my neurosis, it's my..depression, but I don't want it to be limited to that. It's certainly different for different people. It's whatever keeps you up at night," Conor Oberst states in the (fake?) radio interview in "Attempt to Tip the Scales". "The mirror is like, as you might have guessed, self examination, or reflection, or whatever form. This could be vanity, or self loathing. I know, uh, I'm guilty of both. He goes on to say "The scale is essentially..our attempt to solve all of our problems quantitatively, through logic or rationalization. In my opinion it's often fruitless, but always...uh, not always. The clocks and caldendars and such are just...time; our little measurements. Always chasing after us."
What Conor states in the seemingly fake interview is exactly what the album is. Through the rather recognizable imagery, Conor tells stories of love, introspection, and the problems that people face in their lives, from day to day. The music is seemingly dark and eerie, with production that fits the songs very well. Conor brings out his acoustic for many of the songs, providing an intimate feel to the song to go along with his whispering, gentle voice. The arrangements are melodic, and dense, like in "A Scale, a Mirror, and Those Indifferent Clocks," which has a beautiful piano melody, atmospheric organ playing, and some woodwinds providing even more layers of melody to add to the song. "The Calendar Hung Itself..," though, is a vicious song with Conor bringing out his mellodramatic voice. Their is distorted guitars playing on the upbeat, and a distorted keyboard melody, providing more dark undertones to the song, and Conor adds lines like "You are my sunshine" that make it even more sinister and eerie sounding. The acoustic songs here, though, are some of the best. "Something Vague" has some atmospheric guitar playing, accordian, and acoustic playing from Conor. "Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh" is another love song, about a lover spending time with other people. The song eventually builds up into a glorious chorus, and there is plenty of slide playing adding some atmospherics to the song. Here, like plenty of the songs on the album, Conor sounds miserable, and it makes you feel miserable. It's the greatest miserable I've ever felt. "Attempt to Tip the Scales" is a gorgeous song, beggining wth Conor on acoustic, his voice quivering. Female vocals come in and harmonize with him, to beautiful affect, and moraccas add some rhythm. Some of his best lyrics are right here, and they are probably the most simple on here. Some keyboard adds more melody, and orchestrated samples randomly coming in, giving the song a whole new feel. The album ends on a very downbeat note, with "A Song to Pass the Time," with Conor solo, with his acoustic. He tells a story about people that he sees, suburbia, and love, and is very "singer-songwriter". It actually reminds me of Bob Dylan, very much so.
Here, on Fevers & Mirrors, Conor Oberst puts out his best work. The songs are simple and melodic, but all of them possess a very dark and eerie quality to them. The album is depressing and melancholic, with a good portion of the songs having something to do with love. Conor uses large amounts of imagery and metaphors here, but also provides some of his simplest lyrics that he has ever written. The arrangements and playing are all very mature and developed, and fit the the music extremely well. The production also fits the music, once agian provide a sinister, dark, and eerie tone to the music, but also letting the arrangements having room to breathe and the melodies to flow through your ears. Fevers & Mirrors is Conor Oberst's best album, and one of the best of the decade so far.
Nice review as always, you're becoming a great contributor and we have similar taste so I enjoy your reviews.
This album is hot, I love it beyond any other Bright Eyes material I own. I'm not one of those people who sees Conor Oberst as some musical god, but I dig his work and expect good things from him in the future.
4.5/5 for the genre, probably 4/5 in the whole scheme of things.This Message Edited On 07.24.05This Message Edited On 06.08.06
I only own I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, but I've heard some of his other stuff... Something Vague is definitely a cool song. When I get some money I'll get Lifted and then maybe this, it sure sounds cool...
I disagree. First of all, most people don't listen to "The Big Picture" on Lifted, so that takes away about 10 minutes of the CD. But that was the album of his that I really got started on, and it's gotten my hooked on Bright Eyes. Fevers and Mirrors is a landmark album, and I really think that it is his best. It has wonderful arrangements, and is a great place to start if you're into rockier music. But if you're more into Adult Contemporary, than you should start with Lifted.
Morrissey, I totally agree. F&M is my favourite Bright Eyes album, and is a wonderful work.
But, you can't say that Lifted isn't the most popular.
Yeah, just picked up this album the other day and it's fantastic, thank you for this review. 4.5/5 for album and 5/5 for the review. 'Sunrise, Sunset' is my favorite song.This Message Edited On 02.13.06