Music News

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band

Conor Oberst has always been a solo artist despite his reliance upon a handle more suited to a band: Bright Eyes. For that reason, his decision to release his latest album under his name (and to use his moniker for its title as well) doesn't mean he's stripping away the artifice in order to finally reveal the real him. Truth be told, his earlier releases couldn't have seemed more personal if he'd stuffed diary pages into every jewel case. That makes Conor Oberst another step along his musical path as opposed to a bold leap into new territory — and while some listeners have been wowed by the disc, it strikes yours truly as rather monochromatic from a sonic standpoint, especially in comparison with the rich musicality of 2007's Cassadaga. Still, tunes such as the buoyant "Danny Callahan" make it clear that Oberst remains a talent to be reckoned with, whether his eyes are still bright or not.