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Bright Eyes: Fevers and Mirrors [11/4]

Album Reviews:

Magnet (6-7/00, p.70) - "...An unlikely heir to Big Star's THIRD, Violent Femmes' first and the whole Mark Eitzel catalog....borrowing tasteful playing, ambitious production and some of the nicest microphones the boys could get their hands on..."

CMJ (7/00, p.49) - "...A superb album, articulate and powerful on the subject of teenage heartbreak and self-loathing, and played...with confidence and subtlety..."

Melody Maker (7/22/00, p.52) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...Spine-shivering....it'll make you break out into a thousand gruesome goosebumps....the diary of traumatised soul..."

NME (Magazine) (7/8/00, p.27) - 7 out of 10 - "...A godsend for connoisseurs of raging f***-ups and the dubious benefits of a Catholic education....this is a tragicomedy that manages to be oddly affecting even at its most outlandish."

Album Notes

Bright Eyes: Connor Oberst (vocals, guitar, Fender Rhodes piano, organ, keyboards, percussion, samples); Andy Lemaster (vocals, guitar, Mellotron, bass, percussion); Mike Mogis (acoustic & electric guitar, pedal steel, E-bow, mandolin, piano, organ, keyboards, vibraphone, glockenspiel, tambourine, electronics); Jiha Lee (flute); Tim Kasher (accordion); A.J. Mogis (piano); Todd Baechle (keyboards); Matt Maginn (bass); Joe Knapp (drums, percussion); Clint Schnase (drums).

Recorded at Dead Space, Lincoln, Nebraska in December 1999.

While 2002's LIFTED was the record that blew Bright Eyes and its hyper-poetic frontman, Conor Oberst, into the public's consciousness and up the Billboard charts, its predecessor, FEVERS AND MIRRORS, put him on the next-big-thing map. The third official album in the band's catalog, FEVERS AND MIRRORS finds Oberst & Co. codifying the vision nascently established on LETTING OFF THE HAPPINESS. Oberst furiously wrestles with his emotions as he upends confessional singer-songwriter tropes while producer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis frames his whims in shifting, episodic textures that include pulsating organs, dulcimers, and vibraphones.

As with all Bright Eyes albums, this one begins and ends with Oberst's strong songwriting and preternatural gift for dramatic, narrative lyricism. "A Scale, A Mirror, and Those Indifferent Clocks" includes the line "Now I know a disease that these doctors can't treat/you contract on the day you accept all you see". Oberst seems to be kicking and screaming against this possibility through a strained larynx--most notably on the anthemically strung-out "Calendar Hung Itself" and the eruptive refrains of "Sunrise Sunset". While "Something Vague" and "Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh" each predict the operatic alt.country the band would perfect on CASSADEGA. Here Oberst is still embracing his influences--openly channeling Eliot Smith on the opening track and SISTER LOVERS-era Alex Chilton on "The Center of the World". Arguably, pound for pound the best Bright Eyes album, FEVERS AND MIRRORS captures Oberst before the masses did.


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