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


4.0
excellent

Review

by something vague USER (16 Reviews)
October 30th, 2005 | 45 replies | 18,645 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


7 of 7 thought this review was well written

rehearsing my choir says:

What would you do if you were captured by wild bunnies ans enslaved?

{Med57} Mood: pretentious says:

Eat them


Now that we have that queer moment out of the way, I believe it is now time to introduce you to Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground. Now what, you may be questioning, would inspire someone to give an album such a claustrophobic and pretentious name? For this particular question, I have no answers, but what I can tell you is that the title of this album is a rather brief summary of the music itself. Really, Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground is 13 tracks of sprawling narrative-upon-narrative songwriting; an all-encompassing novella filled to the brim with ideas and musical landscapes. The liner booklet itself is 28 pages, struggling to ever fit within the jewel case, and one page lists the musicians and their instruments in detail. This may not seem like something astounding, until you consider that there are about 38 musicians present on the album, including Conor Oberst himself.

Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, although pertaining to the original Bright Eyes sound that had been repeated throughout their earlier years, represents a huge leap in compositional skill and songwriting. While previous albums such as Letting Off the Happiness and Fevers & Mirrors tended to show a lack of musical ability or innovation at times, this certainly is not the case here. The vast array of instruments and musicians present on the album (clarinet, piano, cello, harmonica, french horn, bassoon, trumpet, violen, flute, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, bass, banjo, bells, hammer dulcimer, vibraphone, glockenspiel, mandolin, dobro, pedal steel, oboe, rhodes, organ, drums, vocals and choirs) not only give the songs a sense of unity and brotherhood, but also a fine musical backdrop and plenty of subtle nuances that make the songs much more interesting to listen to with headphones.

However, the instrumentation and arrangements aren't the only aspects that make Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Kep Your Ears to the Ground so great. Conor Oberst, the core of the group, is the chief songwriter and arranger. Bob Dylan comparisons pop up at the thought of Bright Eyes, and this in large is due to his style of songwriting. Although many of the songs contain massive hooks and an overall listenability, the songs are often without a true chorus. Instead, verse follows verse, with a great sense of metaphors, imagery, and linguistic beauty that has been associated with folk genre for as long as anyone can remember. Like most artists lumped in the singer-songwriter genre, Conor Oberst tends to stumble when he gets in over his head, which is evident on the rough-edged acoustic jarble of "Waste of Paint", the only point in the album where he seems to not know what exactly he is doing, and the lack of confidence shows through the vocals and uninspired and boring lyrical scope. The purpose of life, death, loneliness, friendship, love, war, the media, and just about everything within what you could scrounge up. "The Big Picture", as it's name blatantly details, is a summary of all of the ideals represented on the rest of the album. The song, however, stumbles at an overbearingly long 8 minutes, but becomes better over time as the sound quality goes from cheap-Casio to a much more refined. "Method Acting" and "False Advertising" (the latter a gorgeous, string-laden waltz) detail the downfalls of recognition and the manipulation from cetain media outlets. Media sure gets dumped on a lot throughout the album, including the barn-burning folk rock anthem and closer "Lets Not *** Ourselves", where raceous and thundering musical accompaniments go hand in hand with pissed-off lyrics attacking everything in sight ("NBC, ABC, CBS- bull***!"), but is also shows a concern for the future of mankind (like "Don't Know When but a Day is Gonna Come", an dreary death-march of dramatic horns and strings), but also the current political climate ("While the poison ink spews from a speech writer's pen, he knows he don't have to say it, so it don't bother him"), one of the strongest points of the song. Oh, and that organ solo!!!

While the breezy piano-pop of "Bowl of Oranges" provides a hope for a much lyrically and musically lighter album, Lifted.. never really gives you many chances to breath in it's squall of linear anthems. The only other tune that comes anywhere close to the cheer of "Bowl of Oranges" is the jaunting "You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will?". Although it turns out to be a depiction of attachment ("You are a boomerang, you see. You will return to me"), the last minute or so turns into a shout-along chorus of "You will?", an optimistic and vague question at the most, though the mood is ruined by the following "Love I Don't Have to Love", a loud, bass-thumping song of banging a prostitute. Go figure. "Make War" is perhaps one of the best songs on the album, thought criminally ignored by reviewers alike. Driven by countryesque guitar strums and pedal-steel, Conor sings of Man's ongoing war with himself, and how war itself seperates family and loved ones from each other, but somehow the meaning tends to be lost in the pedal-steel country shuffle and overall optimistic tone, ending on an a-cappella sing-along of "Hurry up and run to the one that you love. And tie him up in your likeness. And he'll become, become the prisoner that I was. And you know all that has spoiled in my heart". And that is easily one of the best moments on the whole album.

Conor Oberst certainly is no Bob Dylan, but I'd pet him.



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user ratings (657)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
October 30th 2005



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Your review was good, but I think Bright Eyes are boring and dull, especially this album.

theshapeofpunktocome
October 30th 2005



49 Comments


Haha, love the opening.

pulseczar
October 30th 2005



2385 Comments


oh you and your openers

I dislike Bright Eyes

ocelot-05
October 30th 2005



807 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The music is okay, but Conor has the weakest voice I've ever heard.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
October 30th 2005



2806 Comments


How can you not like Bright Eyes? His songwriting ability is incredible.

ocelot-05
October 30th 2005



807 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Be that as it may, his voice is weak.

Ryou-Neko
November 5th 2005



48 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

His voice is one of the most emotional and strong voices that I've encountered in all of my sifting through of horrible music. This album is timeless.

vitriolboy
November 22nd 2005



82 Comments


^^ Ditto.

Sepstrup
November 22nd 2005



1563 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yup, this is an amazing album.

Neoteric
December 17th 2005



3243 Comments



Be that as it may, his voice is weak.

I think he wanted his voice to sound like that.

A friend told me he used to play real emo music and now he plays indie, is this true?

masada
December 17th 2005



2733 Comments


Your friend is an idiot.

Neoteric
December 29th 2005



3243 Comments


oic, he isn't even my friend, he's some guy who listens to Alexisonfire :lol:

Sepstrup
January 19th 2006



1563 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

*acknowledges the brilliance of Make War*
This is Bright Eyes' best album, in my opinion. While Fevers and I'm Wide Awake are more consistent, this one just has better songs.
Great review

whowhatwhenwherewhy?
January 19th 2006



9 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Lifted is definetly the best album Connors done. Thats the bottom line.

Pink Alex
April 21st 2006



9 Comments


waste of paint is the best song ever

The Jungler
May 21st 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really love this album, it's really raw and emotional. Oberst doesn't get as much respect as he's due imo. Proof that country music may yet be saved (I listened to the new Rascall Flatts CD today. It = balls)
Great review.

masada
June 11th 2006



2733 Comments


I like the new Dixie Chicks stuff, though.

The Jungler
June 11th 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Is that actually good? I liked some of their old stuff and my dad got the new one recently. I'll check it out.

FA
June 13th 2006



127 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love this album...it'd be a good introductory album for new listeners in my opinion...

whj247
June 15th 2006



55 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is an incredible album for people who know and love music. People who recognize talent and passion can appreciate this album. Conor at his best, although there are a few tracks that could've been dropped from the final cut.



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