By Chuck Arnold Jessica Herndon
August 11, 2008 12:00 PM

Conor Oberst



Masterminding Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst was essentially a solo artist hiding behind the guise of a band. So it should come as no surprise that Oberst’s first official solo disc—on which the singer-songwriter is backed by the Mystic Valley Band—sounds an awful lot like a Bright Eyes album. As such, it’s a very good one, on a par with 2007’s Cassadaga, if not quite up to the level of 2005’s I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. Oberst is at his alt-folkie finest on cuts like the bluesy rouser “I Don’t Want to Die (In the Hospital)” and “Souled Out!!!,” which imagines a heaven at capacity. On the heartbreaking highlight, “Lenders in the Temple,” he sings, “If I loved you, well that’s my fault.” Bright Eyes or not, he’s still got the same sharp, lyrical vision.