Saturday, 9 May 2009

Album Review: Outer South- Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band

So here I am with Conor's new CD in my hand, yes, I still buy his stuff, because, y'know, it's him. The sleeve is nice, shiny and colourful with lots of posey pictures of them all looking a bit awkward. There's 16 songs on this album, so that's value for money, at least (but how many is he doing the lead vocal on?). The Daily Mail said Conor was in danger of producing 'quantity over quality'. But he's always been prolific. I listened to his last (almost) solo offering in this flat too, so it wasn't so long ago. But I'd rather prolific and a bit shoddy than retired.
Slowly (Oh so Slowly) reminds me of Gentleman's Pact. To All The Lights in The Windows sounds like a soft rock song, like Conor is trying to be Bruce Springsteen, but there are flashes of good stuff. His voice sounds kind of raw and live on it, a bit under produced, which is nice.
The third song has a crossed out title; cute. From the lyrics, I suspect it's really called 'big black nothing'. Uh-oh, it's one of the others singing. I was afraid of this. Actually, it aint too bad.
Air Mattress also has another one singing, but his voice is kind of nasally (and not in a good way) and the song is a bit cliche. It makes me pine for Conor's vocals. Oh god, that guitar solo is unnecessary.
Cabbage Town is pretty good, probably the most Bright-Eyesey yet. I quite fancy going to Cabbage Town. Again, Conor's voice sounds good, a little bit ripped up and echoey. Definitely less studio-fied than on the last solo album.
Ten Women is quite nice, it has a gentle tone to it, and is probably the least country. Difference is Time is good too, even though it's another lead vocal from someone else, his voice is quite nice (although he sounds a little drunk). It's got a kind of Neva Dinova feel too it.
I thought Nikorette was a bit tedious, wasn't that meant to be the single? They always do a duff single! It's just TOO country, that guitar makes me want to puke.
White Shoes (with just Conor singing with a guitar) reminds me of Lime Tree (with a bit of Lenders in the Temple). It's kind of atmospheric but tuneless, like it could be beautiful but doesn't quite find it's feet. It's lyrically gibberish, which I'm sure means something to Conor, but not very much to the listener. The echo on his voice is cool. This will either really grown on me, or just end up leaving me cold.
Bloodline sees one of the others singing. It's OK but goes nowhere; it's country nothingness. Spoiled is quite good, it has a nice pace to it and the lyrics are sweet. It's a bit poppy. Worldwide feels like more interchangeable country; it feels like it should be Conor singing it.
Roosevelt room goes glam rock, which is a bit weird at this point, but at least Conor is shouting a bit, and he sounds angry. I've heard this before live. I absolutely HATE that 70s guitar sound, but at the same time it's good to hear something a bit different, which doesn't say much for the album. This song is too derivative, but the whole album is. It feels like a waste of Conor's genius.
Eagle on a Pole is not as good as Eagle on a Pole which is on the 1st album. Getting sleepy now.
I Got The Reason #2... wasn't this on the last album? When you're doing two songs with the same name and songs with the same name, but version 1 & 2, maybe you are too prolific. I do really like this song, but I know it quite well, anyway. The version I have is quite understated and quiet, but this version is good too, at least he's loud on it. It's probably the best song on the album.
Snake Hill is an awful ending to the album; it's the mega nasally one again. B-side!
Anyway, I've heard this is a grower, so all comments are pretty much null and void until a couple of weeks time. But it felt like a slog. Conor is such a talent; why does he insist on selling himself so short? And with himself, us.

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