Bright Eyes is a musical project that hails from my old hometown (Omaha, Nebraska) and is the brainchild of one Conor Oberst. Oberst falls squarely into the “singer-songwriter” camp, but his music has a decidedly more maudlin flair. Part of it is Oberst’s voice, which always feels like it’s about burst into a flurry of unchecked rage. It’s also due to Oberst’s lyrics, which peel back the veneer of everyday life, revealing the poisons and disappointments that lie just beneath the surface.
“A Line Allows Progress, A Circle Does Not” is a somber ditty about overcoming drug abuse, with such matter-of-fact lyrics like “You stand near the sink while you’re mixing a drink/You think you don’t want to pass out where your roommates will find you again.” Oberst’s voice is at it’s most expressive on “A Perfect Sonnet” as he condemns hollow romance with startling imagery (“I believe that lovers that should be tied together/And thrown into the ocean in the worst of weather”).
Although it’s only a five song EP, Every Day and Every Night is a weighty affair. Oberst is a skilled songwriter, and his lyrics transcend any folky, sentimental pandering. Oberst’s lyrical visions may be grim, but he approaches his subject matter with a great deal of maturity. His music is no less accomplished. Primarily acoustic-driven, he incorporates steel guitars on the country-tinged “On My Way to Work,” subtle string arrangements (“A New Arrangement”), and dense sound collages (especially on the eerie “Neely O’Hara”) throughout the EP.