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Bright Eyes : Letting Off The Happiness
Lo-fi debut of one Conor Oberst, re-released
So far, so alt.country. If, however, Will Oldham is a disease-ridden prairie dog, Oberst is a rabid three-legged raccoon tormented by the midday sun. "There's a boy in the basement with a four-track machine/He's been strumming and screaming all night", runs insane rockabilly riot, 'The City Has Sex'. And that's pretty much the nub of it.
'Letting...' - originally released by Saddle Creek in '98 - is gloriously all over the place. There's charming, a bit of My Bloody Valentine, and heaps of references to prime-time Dinosaur Jr's clunky, distorted guitars. All done in a how-lo-fi-can-you-go way.
Given Oberst's Matt Bellamy-without-the-range delivery, it can get a bit much, but 'Letting...' doesn't feel hopelessly bleak. There's a buzz about the tunes, and a wit, weary purity and self-awareness to Oberst's words that saves this from a laughably dark insularity. Bright Eyes, it turns out, burn like wild fire.
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