I know I call Lifted . . . my favorite Bright Eyes album just a few weeks ago, but I think I already need to change that. Despite Cassadaga being released just over a week ago, the Bright Eyes album that’s been getting the most playtime, a ridiculous amount really, is Fevers & Mirrors. While I understand how it’s raw emotionality alienates many listeners, I find it not only charming, but entirely engrossing. It’s like a breathless confession, so deep and intimate that you can’t help but listen on.
The albums themes are dark but fascinating; the relentless nature of time, neurosis, self-medication, the restlessness of repetition, and unhealthy love. Each major theme is present throughout the entire album, but several have entire songs focused on them; ‘A Spindle’ for restlessness, ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ for time, and ‘The Calendar Hung Itself’ for love. These songs are often the most engaging on the album, and you’ll probably find yourself thinking of what exactly they mean long after the album’s final note.
Fevers & Mirrors is also home to a stylistic tool that Bright Eye’s seems to have discarded recently; lyrical and instrumental aggression. One of my main problems with Cassadaga was it’s quietness, the way it never seemed to hit any nerves. That’s an ailment that Fevers cannot be said to have; at times, it seems to leap straight at you, and sucker-punch you right in the gut. The imagery is so vivid, the vocals so passionate, that strong lyrics are barely even necessary. But, they’re there, and they add that much more to the album. A few of my favorite lines;
“Does he walk around all day in school/ With his feet inside your shoes/ Looking down every few steps/ To pretend he walks with you” (From ‘The Calendar Hung Itself’)
“And I kissed a girl with a broken jaw/ That her father gave to her/ She had eyes bright enough to burn me there/ Reminding me of yours.” (From ‘The Calendar Hung Itself’)
“Now and again it seems worse than it is/ But mostly the view is accurate” (From ‘Something Vague’)
“Well the wicked are vultures/ And they bake in the canyons/ Circling somebody/ Wait for their victims/ To collapse and call to them” (From Arienette)
“And you tear and tear your hair from roots/ That same hair you’ve twice removed/ Now a lock of hair/ You said would prove/ Our love would never die” (From ‘Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh’)
Even the pseudo-interview that punctuates the end of the album is an interesting look into what drives Oberst. There’s so much that I love about this album, that it’s hard to fit it all into such a short space (and this has already become one of my longer posts). So, I’ll stop after just one more thing. Above all else, I love Fevers & Mirrors because it’s a mood album. When you’re feeling down, it’s not likely to bring you up any, but it will make a fine companion.