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Bright Eyes - Letting Off the Happiness

By annie holub
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 4, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Bright Eyes

Letting Off the Happiness

(Saddle Creek)

Letting Off the Happiness embodies the very foundations that indie rock was founded on: a whole bunch of musicians getting together and making cool pop music. The songs are brilliantly worded, creatively crafted, and executed honestly and casually. It's sloppy, but in a good way - you can almost see the musicians all crowded into the studio in Athens, where Oberst recorded most of the tracks, or into Oberst's bedroom, playing and singing into the microphones spontaneously.

What's so intoxicating about this album is how cool and well-written the songs are. Oberst's lyrics, combined with the smorgasboard of musicians contributing to the eclectic sound of the album (members of Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal make appearances, as do other Saddle Creek labelmates), are what really carry this album. "The City Has Sex With Itself," builds on an interesting metaphor, and "Padriac My Prince" is a sad and haunting story of the ghost of a baby brother. "Pull My Hair" also has interesting lyrics ("It will be more like a song/and less like it's math/if you pull on my hair/and bite me like that") and has this giddy bouncing sound to it. "Tereza and Tomas" is a beautiful lyric poem that is only made more so by the slightly out-of-tune piano and quiet guitar playing along.

- annie holub