Bright Eyes - Letting Off The Happiness (Cover Artwork)

Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes: Letting Off The HappinessLetting Off The Happiness (1998)
Saddle Creek Records

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:

Contributed by: NickFeeleynick f
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Me: "Wait... so... it's one guy, and he calls himself Bright Eyes?" My Friend: "Yep" Me: :Loud, groaning sound: "Well, what does he sound like?" [Long, thoughtful pause] My Friend: "Like Dashboard Confesional... only better. GROAN... And with that bastardized description, I first encountered.
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Me: "Wait... so... it's one guy, and he calls himself Bright Eyes?"
My Friend: "Yep"
Me: :Loud, groaning sound: "Well, what does he sound like?"
[Long, thoughtful pause]
My Friend: "Like Dashboard Confesional... only better.

And with that bastardized description, I first encountered Bright Eyes. The conversation left me with a bad taste in my mouth and a borrowed copy of his sophmore release Fevers and Mirrors. This was at the height of my Dashboard backlash (I have since come to terms that he is just not for me), so the last thing I wanted to hear was another kid bitching about his lost loves. The CD sat on my dresser for a bit, and then, out of boredom and sheer curiosity, I popped it in. I was blown away. Despite some awkward moments (the kid reading and the doctored interview spring into mind), the album was an amazing collection of poetic lyricism and diverse sounds. Bright Eyes soon became a featured selection in almost all the mixes I made. I couldn't, and frankly, still can't get enough of him.

Letting Off the Happiness, his first release, finds frontman and only constant Conor Oberst mining the gold out of lo-fi 4 track tapes. The first song, "If Winter Ends", starts out with radio hiss and other "found sounds" before revealing a quickly strummed guitar and Conor's cathartic vocals ("How can I expect anyone to give a shit?!" he screams as the song hits its crescendo). Elsewhere, the songs are slow and varied, such as on the country waltz of "Contrast and Compare". Backed by steel guitar, distorted noise in the background, and female backing vocals, the song moves meanderingly to a close of lo-fi noise and screaming. On what might be his most infamous song written, "Padraic, My Prince", Oberst weaves a tale of death and the false promises broken. "Padraic my prince, I have all but died/ From the sheer weight of my shame" he murmers as keyboards and drums swell around him. The songs on this album are varied enough to keep Oberst sometimes ponderous lyricism afloat under the wieght of their own emotion. On the full on rock of "The City Has Sex", the backing musicians thrust the song foward as Oberst reverts to his scratchy, Commander Venus era holler. The one song that suffers a bit on the album is the twenty-five minute closer "Tereza and Thomas". Vaguely based on the book .The Unbearable Lightness of Being, he presents a story of love and escape, yet the emmense length of this song turns it into an endurance test of sorts as the main song ends and lo-fi bleeping and other noises set in.

The songs are mostly culled from very lo-fi tapes, giving it an intimate feel. Members of Nuetral Milk Honey and Of Montreal provide for excellent backing musicianship, helping to flesh out Oberst's songs even more. At the time of making this, Oberst was barely 18. The Dylan comparisons not with standing, Letting Off the Happiness is one of Bright Eyes best releases, and though not as theatrical as Fevers and Mirrors or Lifted, still gives an excellent indicator to the amount of talent Obrest has to work with.


People who liked this also liked:
The Clash - London CallingBright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning / Digital Ash In A Digital UrnAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityBrand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside MeAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseBright Eyes - Fevers And MirrorsBlink-182 - Blink 182Operation Ivy - Operation IvyDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeTexas Is The Reason - Do You Know Who You Are?

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (November 27, 2003)

ie: One of the definitions of a punk is someone who sucks dick for money. True, punk was never about being mainstream and accepted, but it was about accepting outcasts and freaks. Homosexuals, however unfair it may be, fall into that category. After all, Andy Warhole managed the Velvet Underground and is credited with being one of the pioneers of the punk movement. He also happened to be gay. Coincidence? I think not.

Leandro (August 22, 2003)

fucking great

Anonymous (February 13, 2003)

im awaiting the "oh how sensitive jokes".
ergh. :/

Anonymous (February 13, 2003)

yeah that would be Neutral Milk hotel, as stated many times before. i just have to due my duty as massive fan and di it again. i know its a review of bright eyes, but im still taking the time to mention that you should all look into N.M.H.
conor's great too, but not great enough to detract from the never ending debate of "what punk is". oh well. you all know its that kind of thing that will never be defined or solved. punks like love, it can only be defined by those who have experienced it, and even then it is different for everyone.
see ya.
~~bitterpixie(too lazy to log in)

Anonymous (February 11, 2003)

to the post below, the reason i only give nines and tens is becuase i review out of my own record collection. no one sends me potentially bad records, so i can't review what may be a record. besides, seeing how the records are in my collection, one would assume its there becuase i enjoy it, right? hence the high ratings.

nick f

ps: ill try and give some bad reviews to some deserving acts. shesh.

Anonymous (February 10, 2003)

nick f only gives out 9's and 10's...check out his track record...interesting. I like to think all my music is good music but it ain't all 10's -bigjerk

Luzzew (February 9, 2003)

That has nothing to do with questioning the validity of someones interest in music......


Anonymous (February 9, 2003)

why not post that?

questioning the validity of someones interest in music has a lot of relevance to a music site.... this is a music site isnt it?

ThreeChordsAndTheTruth (February 8, 2003)

"enough of this fag shit you probably spend more time sucking dick than you do listening to punk anyways"

Why even bother posting that? Some of the people here are just a waste of semen.

Luzzew (February 8, 2003)

The Collection - A Collection of Songs Written 1995-1997. And yeah, that is pretty good.... However, I think Fevers and Mirrors is better, as well as There is No Beginning to the Story....


Anonymous (February 8, 2003)

my apologies
- nick

Anonymous (February 8, 2003)

Thats Neutral Milk Hotel, skippy

jheisel (February 8, 2003)

haha, i totally didn't even notice it said honey until i read the comments and re-read it.

yeah, this album is pretty damn awesome though.

Anonymous (February 8, 2003)

padraic the prince is amazing, my favorite bright eyes album, i think its much better than lifted.


StabbingGoldfish (February 7, 2003)

Conor is amazing. If you like this you will like The Collection, it's about 20 songs of all his earlier stuff.

travis (February 7, 2003)

i love this album. I hadnt listened to it in a while, but pulled it out to play padraic my prince on my radio show. such awesome music.

Anonymous (February 7, 2003)

eh, nothing really evil or horribly wrong with calling someone a fag, unless that person really is a homosexual(see, i'm PC!), then you're insulting them. but usually the one's calling people fags as insults are 27 year old losers whose vocabulary doesn't extend much beyond "welcome to mcdonald's. may i take your order please?"

Anonymous (February 7, 2003)

What's the problem with using the word fag?

Do you get insulted when someone calls you straight? No.

Anonymous (February 7, 2003)

Hahahaha Neutral Milk Honey hahahahaha this reviewer is a fucking dumb ass!

Anonymous (February 7, 2003)

"punk has always been about acceptance and tolerance, jackass"

What does Bright eyes have to do with punk? Seriously, this is as far as you can get from punk.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, this whole "If you say fag you're a biggot" thing just popped up in the last couple years. Punk was never about acceptance until the PC police got a hold of it and made it suck.

Besides, by calling the guy a jack-ass, you aren't really being very tolerant of him, are you? You wouldn't want to be intolerant.

PC Fag.

relay1112 (February 7, 2003)

you mean Neutral Milk Hotel, not Honey, right?

Anonymous (February 7, 2003)

punk has always been about acceptance and tolerance, jackass

Anonymous (February 7, 2003)

since when was punk about being a bigot? fucking homophobe.

Anonymous (February 7, 2003)

You just have to love someone that slams how "punk" someone is by calling the person hateful slurs. You are so much more punk than anyone.

Anonymous (February 7, 2003)

enough of this fag shit you probably spend more time sucking dick than you do listening to punk anyways

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