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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would You Go Start Explaining, You Know I Want to Understand
Upon reading many of the reviews of "Lifted," I felt obligated to scribble a review of my own. Disenchantment of this record appears to be widespread. Many resort to personal attacks, while others' attempts at actual criticism falls short of substandard. Now, I'll step off my soapbox and allow Oberst to step up.

Most complaints about Oberst arise from his...
Published on November 10, 2005 by J. Braxton Wittenburg

versus
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A sloppy work of art
Bright Eyes sunk into my head due to Conor Oberst' ability as a song writer, seriously this guy must've aced english and literature because he has a way with words. With lyrical content that is subjective and to the point while at the same hand poetic and evened out with some occassional dipping of prose.
I really love how well in harmony a song like "Bowl of...
Published on July 11, 2004 by Michael Barrera


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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would You Go Start Explaining, You Know I Want to Understand, November 10, 2005
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
Upon reading many of the reviews of "Lifted," I felt obligated to scribble a review of my own. Disenchantment of this record appears to be widespread. Many resort to personal attacks, while others' attempts at actual criticism falls short of substandard. Now, I'll step off my soapbox and allow Oberst to step up.

Most complaints about Oberst arise from his quavering vocals and self-indulgent writing style. I'll be the first to admit that this sort of music is an acquired taste. The first time I listened to Oberst would also be the last time I listened to him for over a year. I was sitting in my room with a group of people, and one of my friends put on Fevers and Mirrors. One caveat, you can never appreciate Bright Eyes in a crowd. This is a very solitary listening experience. But, back to the vocals and style...

From a subjective standpoint, most are put off by his general intensity. They'll term this intensity, "pretension." Yet, I must say, it's because people aren't quite sure what to make of the subject matter. His "pretension" is in actuality an attempt at pure and unadulterated writing. In trying to compare Oberst to other musicians, it's a feat short of impossible, as Oberst isn't comparable to other musicians. He's comparable only to other writers. That, I argue, is why people dislike him.

Yes, listening to Bright Eyes is a sometimes an arduous task. However, from a psychological standpoint, his lyrics operate on the reward system. Dopamine and Serotonin are the chemicals in your brain responsible for happiness and your sense of well-being. As you come to understand the lyrics, you are rewarded for putting forth a cognitive effort and therefore feel a sense of accomplishment for your hard work.

Oberst's vocals couldn't be refined. Tell me this: in modern times, what artist who is famous doesn't have a distinctive voice? Those who blend with the choir never make it. Also, due to the subject matter, these kinds of vocals are best equipped to carry the baggage.

In sum, Oberst is a lyricist first, a writer. If you don't invest the time to decode the message, you won't be rewarded, and you won't enjoy the music. Superficially, some of the songs may be enjoyed by melody alone, but that's not the author's intentions.

With "Lifted," Oberst has redefined music. He has turned a stone, so to speak, and now, we see that music can be much more than punchy lines and melodic strings. Oberst can distill life in one breath better than most writers can in an entire novel.

I believe his lyrics not to be self-indulgent but honest. He doesn't hide behind the shield of abstraction like most acclaimed musicians. Rather, Oberst lays it all out on the line so that it's undeniable as to what was spoken. In essence, he's says, "This is what I believe is truth. If you don't like it, that's fine, but there will be no question as to what I've said."

So, buy "Lifted" if you enjoy using your mind, if not then buy anything else. To the argument that his songs are depressing, I say, "Pish-posh." If you think his lyrics are depressing you're not listening, as all but save a couple songs end with some element of hope and resolution. Obviously, I have a very biased opinion about the band, but hear this... I have invested the time to enjoy it, and I'm still not enjoying it to the fullest because each time I listen I hear something new and exciting, something to which I can relate.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep your ear to the ground, and give this album a REAL listen, July 2, 2005
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
Conor Oberst is a poet. That's all there is to it. I'd say 90% of this album is the lyrics. The emotions that Conor manages to caupture so well in a song, the way you can hear them in his voice really make this album.

I had to write a review on this just because everyone was so harsh on their reviews, and I strongly disagree. But I think what the problem really is, they didn't really know what they were listening to. So, let me tell you what this album is NOT:

-Dashboard Confessional, & the like - You get real insight on Lifted..., not pusedo-intellectual, cheesy crap. Unlike Carraba, Oberst writes as an artform rather than to get girls.

-Pantera, etc. - If you're looking for amazing guitar solos or lyrics that can lift your great, great grandma from her grave, then you've also got the wrong album. Oberst writes music with a usually mellow beat, once again focusing on the content rather than the mosh-ability.

-Blink 182, etc. - This CD isn't going to make you jump up and down or rhyme every other line. Sorry.

If any of those is what you were looking for in this album, then I can understand you disappointment. This album is different than anything you've ever heard. (Not that people haven't tried, and failed, to replicate it) This is for fans of poetry, art, and who don't mind an album that does not have more than 300 beats per minute. Put the caffeine down, people, listen to the lyrics and feel the emotions in this album. Hell, preview the free tracks before you buy it. Disappointment will not follow.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think it's safe to call this a masterpiece, November 1, 2002
By 
Jonathan Risser (Seattle, Wa United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
I may not be the most qualified person to praise the new Bright Eyes album- it is the only one I own, after all. Lifted is amazing, at any rate. You might think that his emotionally overwhelemed voice would become old quick, but it really doesn't- especially when he's backed by a massive orchestra and some incredible songs. Perhaps that's the best thing about the album- its perfect balance. If you just want to hear Connor singing while he strums his guitar, listen to Waste of Paint, or You Will. If you want a big symphonic anthem, there's False Advertising or Method Acting. And if you want to hear one of his most radio-ready tracks yet, there's the stunning Lover I Don't Have to Love. There's even a few great country tracks thrown in!
I've heard people dismiss Bright Eyes as "too emo." I suppose this could describe some of his songs, but there is a lot more to Connor's music. Though he sings about pain and sadness, there's also a lot of hope and empathy for others. And even if Waste of Paint makes me cry every time I hear it, what's wrong with that??
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly incredible, September 26, 2003
By 
alexliamw (New Haven, CT) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
I don't subscribe to any of these half-measures when talking about this album. It is not "half-brilliant", not "a few good tracks", not "inconsistent" or "a flawed masterpiece" this is a beauteous epic of near-perfect proportions. The arrangements are expansive yet focused, the voice is fragile and quivers in the air in the tradition of all those not-conventionally-excellent-but-oh-so-passionate voices in music, and the lyrics...the lyrics are unmatched by any modern writer on the planet. Conor Oberst has a may of putting thing that simply expresses everything you ever wanted to say. He's so eloquent, his imagery is so vivid, his observations so mature of thoughtful...these lyrics are those of a true poet. He has so much to say that scarcely a single line is repeated on the album.
"The Big Picture" opens the album. Many have criticised this song, with its demo-y feel and lack of direction or focused tune, but it is raw emotion from Oberst, a stream-of-consciousness that has to be understood. Its not perfect but its not meant to be. "Method Acting" is a much more coherant opener of what is the main album, and its an excellent introduction to the more usual Bright Eyes sound. With typically weary-but-hopeful lyrics, chiming guitars worthy of Johnny Marr and effective backing-vocal arrangements, its a really excellent piece. "False Advertising" follows - a grand ballad with a waltz-time rhythm and a lush string-filled orchestration.
"You Will" is a folksy number in the vein of numerous classic singer-songwriters, but updated. The numerous comparisons to Dylan for Oberst are somewhat unfounded in terms of actual style or voice but there's something that unites them in spirit perhaps. "Lover I Don't Have To Love" is a total contrast, with an gritty urban menace to it with its brooding bassline, sinister bell-sound and lyrics that describe not ideal love but sexual lust removed entirely from romance. Still Oberst puts the subject in a very eloquent and meaningful way and it includes some brilliant lines like "Love's an excuse to get hurt/And to hurt/Do you like to hurt/I do, I do, then hurt me". The strings on this track are used incredible. Its not a ballad or even an optimistic track but brooding cellos pepper the verse while staccato, rhythmic pounding of the strings in the chorus shows that you don't have to use overdriven guitars to pack a musical punch. This is probably the most instantly appealing and immediate track.
We get another contrast with "Bowl Of Oranges", an upbeat folky strumalong with melodic piano and some of the most wonderfully upbeat lyrics ever, not in the slightest cheesy but touching and beautiful. Again the arrangement is right on par with brilliant horns and drums. This gives way for the sparse "Don't Know When But A Day Is Going To Come", which perhaps tops the whole album lyrically speaking, with not a word that doesn't stun the listener. I could quote lines but it would do it injustice, you must hear the whole thing. Simple guitar adorns a repetitive melody for a sparse and chilling arrangement, which gives way occasionally to an unusual, somewhat discordant break.
"Nothing Gets Crossed Out" is a really beautiful little indie song with a lovely tunes and really perfect female backing vocals, again brilliant lyrics. This one reminds me a lot of the Scottish indiepop band Belle and Sebastian - it has this twee but touching and beautiful sound to it - its been taken up by a bunch of American bands. Its a really aching and truly wonderful track. "Make War" takes a country-ish tack, an interesting varient on the formula though its not my favourite track. "Waste of Paint" (along with "The Big Picture") is the kind of track that gets Oberst his reputation for angsty lyrics and perfunctory strumming - which isnt always true - however despite the quite obvious angst the lyrics are still phrased wonderfully in a great storytelling style and thought the arrangement is not as impressive as usual the simple acoustic guitar works well with the track.
"From A Balance Beam" is a jaunty pop song that starts and stops with a heavenly arrangement featuring what sounds like a harp - yet again the lyrics are excellent. "Laura Laurent" is the second track which is very country-ish, with that Nashville-ish whining guitar. Again, its not my favourite but its a chilled and relaxing ballad. Finally we have "Let's Not S*** Ourselves" which is intended as the epic climax to an epic album, it features a somewhat silly, country-rock-grunge-folk-pop-indie hybrid, but its endearingly so and its uplifting and puts a smile on your face. And guess what - the lyrics are rather good.
This album is a much for anyone who enjoys ambitious music and thoughtful, incisive lyrics littered with classic lines and thoughts. The lyrics really complement the music and the voice and though I've gone on and on about lyrics they really are utterly incredible. Please ignore the people that say this is a mixed bag - it is not to be missed. Oberst is an indie hero and the greatest lyricist of our generation - no hyperbole - this is the stuff.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hated addiction., February 2, 2006
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
The music doesn't necessarily impress me, but the writing does. I mean, "Lifted..." is no album that you can take a nap and still enjoy it. No, no, you will have to concetrate pretty hard on the lyrics to understand the hype. "Lifted..." is supposively Conor Oberst's life story. In which he drowns us with very depressing songs about love, loss, regret, and drugs. To those who have never lost, nor loved, this album will seem ridiculous. However, if you'd like to wallow in your depression, I do very much suggest this album.
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, August 4, 2004
By 
Gordon Smith (san jose, ca United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
I'm on a road trip. A solo road trip. All around the USA. I've had this album for nearly a year and not been too crazy about it. I thought this kid needed to "sack up, and deal with his problems like a man." But what in the heck does that mean? Most of the time it means we hide from our feelings and to attempt to dominate our own small corner of the world in order to avoid staring into the void. This kid, Conor Oberst likes staring into the void.I think he's sick in the head. Life doesn't have to be as painful or as beautiful as it is on this album, and anyone so bent on living it that way must be kinda nutty. But it needn't be, as a personably bland midwesterner advised me last night, all about "keeping the ol' needle close to zero." How crazy a philosophy is that?(!!!) It seems that we're so afraid of reality on the one hand, and of appearing soft, on the other, that we never dare to feel life intensely and poetically if we can manage to avoid doing so. But with the alternative being as emotionally and intellectually false as we know it is, do we really have a choice? And aren't we all embarrased by our cowardice for Pete's sake? So really, this album can make you feel love, joy, and pain, and if that scares you, you can turn it off also. Convenient! I, personally have recently learned to enjoy driving long midwestern miles and shamelessly letting the tears fall down my face. It's so worth it!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully beautiful and right on the mark, January 29, 2005
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
All i have heard about Bright Eyes is that their lyrics are the only real thing they have going for them. I've been told that the singer has no realy vocal talent and the guitars are sub-par. I have also heard that the singer is piss-drunk at every show. I don't really give a damn if he's shooting up heroin during every show, he can write! These are some of the most artful and true lyrics i have ever heard. It's kind of hard to describe, but there are lots of lyrics sites you can go to if you really feel the need.

Not only are the lyrics beautiful, the music is very, very good. The album balances out heavier, painful songs with lighter songs sprinkled with the background of a piano. Some of the songs make you feel like everything is going to be OK, but some of them make you want to slit your wrists. The mood of the songs are balanced out, once again, by the amazing lyrics.

Yeah the singer has a good voice to. Can't forget to mention that. i am definitely going to check out more Bright Eyes in the near future
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your Heart Will Be Broken and Healed Again, January 5, 2006
By 
Joey Anonymous (Ann Arbor, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
My first exposure to Bright Eyes was hearing "Bowl of Oranges" on the radio. I'd never heard anything like it before. It hurt, somehow, but in a good way. My full obsession with Bright Eyes did not begin until some years later--in fact, not that long ago.

When I first heard this album in its entirety, I was underwhelmed, but I knew from my experience with Fevers and Mirrors and I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning to give it a few more listens and let it grow on me. Sure enough, on the third listen, BAM--head over heels. The first song to strike me differently was "False Advertising"; I'll never forget the moment when I was sitting on the bus at night and the instrumentals kicked in and it was like something frozen inside of me melted.

One thing I love about the record as a whole is that even the songs I'm comparatively not all that fond of have a big instrumental swell in the middle to recapture my attention just when it's drifting (listen to "You Will..." and "Don't Know When..." and you'll see what I mean). My other favorite thing about it is that even when the lyrics don't seem to make a lot of sense, they feel true and universal. I guarantee you that you will find at least one emotion expressed on this album with which to empathize.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece from an Indie Mastermind..., May 17, 2005
By 
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
For me, this was the CD that started it all. After coming across the song "Lover I Don't Have To Love" by sheer dumb luck, I set out on a quest to find the artist and CD, and found myself at Tower Records that same night. After quickly falling in love with the CD, I went out and bought everything I could find by Bright Eyes, and haven't been disappointed by a single song, note, or lyric yet. I still consider "Lifted" the best Bright Eyes CD to date, and am thoroughly impressed by the range of styles, instruments, and techniques Conor Oberst uses in this one. Happiest listening to you, and may you soon be "Lifted" as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Open your mind and it's great, August 5, 2005
By 
fp27mj "Ross" (Paso Robles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Audio CD)
All I can say is this is one of my favorite albums ever. If you refuse to like Oberst's voice it just isn't for you, but to me I find that his use of off-key singing, straining, screaming, shouting, whispering, and the like are all extremely effective in obtaining his artistic goals in the songs. It saddens me to see so many one-star reviews of such a great album, with people whining on and on about how poor Conor's voice is or how he's not a great musician. Yeah, his voice sucks. Yeah, he barely knows how to play guitar. But somehow Conor puts these elements together and writes songs that are unforgettable. Don't pass this up after just one or two listens. If you don't like it right away, give it some time before writing such close-minded reviews. The songwriting on this album far surpasses that of most other bands I've heard in the folk, indie, or emo genres. And it's not all misery either. Just listen to Bowl of Oranges.
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