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LIFTED or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground

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Album Review

When Bright Eyes brainchild Conor Oberst issued Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground in August 2002, he was 22 years old. Critics were already calling him the "indie Bob Dylan," but the new millennium had seen a lot of those introverted, intelligent types (Ryan Adams, Beck). Bright Eyes, though, delivered a solid, intricately produced album without the majors' monotony. Immediately, one can sense Oberst's literate approach. His vocal curdle is abrasive yet warm. It's similar to the cooing of Robert Smith, but lush in heartache like Paul Westerberg, leaving the storybook of Lifted or The Story to earn massive praise. "Waste of Paint" is rough-cut with edgy acoustics, while "From a Balance Beam" glows with pop-like optimism. Chimes and simple drumming keep the story of personal insecurity and the fear of the unknown coming alive in a dreamy sort of way. Even when he's aching his way through the pop rumble of "Method Acting," Bright Eyes convincingly lures one into his eclectic musical world. Oberst obviously has the talent to support the hype. "Lover I Don't Have to Love" is a dark number with its Radiohead-like doom and gloom; however, the piano swirl of "A Bowl of Oranges" offers a brighter reflection. On Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, Bright Eyes has mixed badness with beauty for a sonic storybook that relates to everyone. It's slightly overwhelming at first, but one must allow a grace period to fully absorb the abstract desire behind this album.

Customer Reviews

Initially awful, but persevere.

I hated this album the first time I heard it. I think the problem was that I had tried to compare it to other Bright Eyes albums I had heard, and I can now see that was a silly thing to do cos its just so different. This album is fantastic, and contains a few real Bright Eyes gems. You Will. You Will? is a fantastic, incredibly perceptive song, followed by Lover I Don't Have to Love, which is dark, sinister and in my opinion quite scary. If you get one song off this album I'd go for Waste of Paint - it is hard to beat Connor Oberst by himself with his guitar.

conor oberst is a geeeeeniuss

coner oberst is amazing. he is honestly one of the best lyricists around just now. its hard to pick a favourite from this album, all of them except 'the big picture' are brilliant (the big picture has a really long, quite boring intro) but if i had to pick one then itd be 'nothing gets crossed out'. Its fantabulous :)

The picture's far too big to look at, kid, your eyes won't open wide enough.

"They say they don't know when but a day is gonna come, when there won't be a moon and there won't be a sun. It will all go black; it will all go back to the way it was before." So, "Working on the record seems pointless now. When the world ends, whose gonna hear it?" Plus, "You say that I treat you like a book on a shelf. I don't take you out that often because I know that I completed you, and that's why you are here...How awful that must feel." So, what is the point in living? "To love and to be loved" Hmm, "let us hope that is enough".


Formed: 1995 in Omaha, NE

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although many musicians have joined the band's rotating lineup, Bright Eyes is primarily the songwriting vehicle of Conor Oberst, a quivery-voiced Nebraska native who first attracted attention in 1994 -- when he was only 14 years old -- as the singer and guitarist for Commander Venus. Oberst proved to be a prolific musician, joining multiple bands (including Commander Venus, the Magentas, Park Ave., and Desaparecidos) while also co-founding Saddle Creek, an influential label that helped broadcast...
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