Conor Oberst

  • Record Label: Merge
  • Release Date: Aug 5, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. His melodies curl to drive the stories, while his lyrics illuminate the road with a sometimes dazzling light.
  2. This vibrato-prone romantic is the greatest melodist in contemporary mega-indie.
  3. Under The Radar
    In terms of recording, speeding up, and trimming down he has produced one of his most intimate and exhilarating albums to date. [Summer 2008]
  4. It’s just an Omaha boy playing some good old country pop--for once.
  5. Entertainment Weekly
    Sprawling and brawny, Conor is the least maudlin album Oberst has made. [8 Aug 2008, p.67]
  6. By its very nature this is a more cohesive work than "Cassadaga," and a fine, true one at that: evocative, sporadically inspired and resoundingly enjoyable, repeat plays paying dividends.
  7. There’s a sense of playfulness on I Don’t Wanna Die (In The Hospital) and NYC – Gone, Gone that’s missing from Cassadaga, and enough catchiness to keep radio stations happy (even if said track happens to be an ominous ode to a dying boy), but it’s on the achingly simplest of songs where Oberst’s familiar splenetic growl returns at last.
  8. If hippie leanings and a penchant for image-dense, nature-inspired poesy make Oberst a kindred spirit to Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, he can also be hard-nosed.
  9. It's no surprise that Oberst is able to pull off this style exceptionally well, but what impresses most about the record is how its relaxed vibe--the album was recorded with the specially assembled Mystic Valley Band in just two months at a private house in Mexico--carries over into Oberst's songwriting.
  10. Conor Oberst (Merge) is the richest collection of songs from Conor Oberst--via Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, whatever--in a long time.
  11. 80
    Oberst always projects a spiritual generosity unknown to most footloose troubadours who can’t commit.
  12. With Oberst, there is little filter; the gems and the rubbish all emerge from the same place. Oberst's talent and his unevenness are all of a kind.
  13. 80
    It’s proof that, when he escapes from awkward, self-conscious navel-gazing, Oberst can be a songwriter of some note.
  14. Conor Oberst's latest project has demonstrated his unmistakable ability to maintain continuity across an album while managing to quell any potential boredom before it begins to detract from the listening experience.
  15. Altogether, it might be his most mature and immediately listenable album.
  16. If intended to initiate his career's second act, Oberst has an impressive start.
  17. Oberst himself sounds enlivened by the chance to listen in and sing while he's at it.
  18. The result is a confident, tight batch of tracks that beautifully encompass a prosaic kind of ache.
  19. Oberst has traded in a lot of his post-adolescent trembling for a calmer, less unbridled melancholy, but Conor Oberst is still packed with disheartening realities, and Oberst refuses to temper his pessimism, even when it starts to feel heavy and contrived, more like a narrative tic than anything else.
  20. The fact that the music does feel relaxed, even when it bears his classicist affectations, does make Conor Oberst markedly different than the music of Bright Eyes, and makes it a worthwhile project--even if it proves to be a detour instead of a new beginning.
  21. So, the jury is still out on Conor Oberst. His loyal fans will be slightly puzzled by the easy going roll of the music but rewarded by several choice lyrical nuggets, while his critics will point out that Dylan had already released Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde before recording John Wesley Harding.
  22. Largely, this is the introspective folk rock of Bright Eyes, though there's some welcome shift away from autobiography.
  23. Lyrically, however, the album is just another soul-searching journey, and while he may be getting too old to call a “boy genius”, he's not lost any of his wistful intelligence.
  24. It’s not the definitive work the self-titling might suggest but it’s sure as hell worthy of the name.
  25. Conor Oberst doesn't sound much different from any of Bright Eyes' acoustic material, except that it is lacking in the bare honesty of his earlier albums.
  26. 70
    The album does an admirable job of living up to its low- key title (with spare acoustic tracks) and its situation (with loosey-goosey, classic-rock-indebted numbers).
  27. The opening and closing tracks prove that Conor Oberst is a more reflective and personal venture as both are stripped down affairs, one summoning childhood memories while the other seems to contemplate suicide.
  28. Ultimately, Conor Oberst is a bit of a mixed bag, an album that’s often as frustrating as it is inviting. It is, however, a step in the right direction and a sure sign that Oberst is growing as a songwriter.
  29. Here, obsessed with his own mortality, Conor isolates himself from what stirs his best writing.
  30. While it's certainly refreshing to hear Oberst refrain from swaddling his emotionally-driven conceits in rock statesman's clothing, much of Conor Oberst seems too comfortably by-the-book to really leap off the page.
  31. Mojo
    That bravery and those haunting songs make for an album that, while not the very best Oberst has made, buttresses his growing reputation as the best songwriter working today. [Sep 2008, p.102]
  32. A definite sense of fun permeates Conor Oberst, with the singer allowing himself to indulge a few whimsical idea's.
  33. From admittedly unsympathetic ears, it’s a fruitless mess caked with vanity and smothered by its own insular delusions of prosperity.
  34. Although Oberst's reedy voice may occasionally shine, this album needs a bang rather than a whimper.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Nov 17, 2011
    Consistenly good without ever really catching fire anywhere. Enjoyable but overrated in my opinion. Cape Canaveral, Eagle on a Pole, MilkConsistenly good without ever really catching fire anywhere. Enjoyable but overrated in my opinion. Cape Canaveral, Eagle on a Pole, Milk Thistle are the highlights. Full Review »
  2. voodoocookie
    Aug 15, 2008
    Conor nails it again. It doesn't sound too different from another Bright Eyes album but with each and every album his sound has been Conor nails it again. It doesn't sound too different from another Bright Eyes album but with each and every album his sound has been evolving. You can't really still expect him to sound like the fever/lifted days. Lyrics and music still top notch and he seems to be enjoying himself here which is nice to see! Full Review »
  3. ChadS.
    Aug 11, 2008
    If you're good, you can get away with a faux-off-the-cuff spoken-word narrative about a surreal plane crash, before launching If you're good, you can get away with a faux-off-the-cuff spoken-word narrative about a surreal plane crash, before launching acoustically into your best Bob Dylan imitation, as the thirsty Conor Oberst audaciously pulled off with aplomb and confidence on "At the Bottom of Everything"(from "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning"). He recorded himself drinking a beverage, and I didn't mind at all. One song is all it took to make me a loyal fan. A first impression is everything. Now, he's an I. Maybe Oberst stopped hiding behind his Bright Eyes moniker as a response to the similar move made by Bill Callahan(he who was Smog), or, Jakob Dylan(he who was a Wallflower). On this eponymous debut, Oberst finally wrote a song that is equal to anything in the Dylan canon. "I Don't Want to Die(in the Hospital)" sounds like an update of "Bringing It All Back Home"-era Bob, updated by Gordon, circa 1984. Listen closely, and you just might hear a hint of "Never Tell" and "Jesus Walking on the Water" from the Violent Femmes' underrated "Hallowed Ground". While everybody is mining the sixties for his influences, Gordon Gano might be flying under the radar. "Souled Out" makes funny reference to "Knocking on Heaven's Door", in which the recently dead "won't be getting in" because heaven is "all souled out". Warren Zevon got in. But will there be room for Axl Rose? He has some explaining to do about the original cover art for "Appetite for Destruction". "NYC-Gone Gone" is a cool Slade-like rave-up. And finally, the album closes gracefully with "Milk Thistle", a langorous ballad that sort of recalls Cat Stevens' "Moon Shadow". Full Review »