This teaser (out March 6) for Bright Eyes' forthcoming full-length is a bit of a let-down after the ambitious scope of Conor Oberst's Digital Ash/I'm Wide Awake electro-acoustic double whammy. The band's rotating ensemble has been solidified into a core trio (Saddle Creek stalwarts Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott join Conor Oberst), which seems to have lent Oberst's sprawling, unwieldy tunes a tightness missing from previous albums. Oberst's caterwauling emotions are similarly in check here, so the pathos of Reinvent The Wheel (which comes off as an upbeat reworking of Lua) lies in his subtle vocal restraint and lyrical details. The downside is that without Bright Eyes' characteristic gangly-limbed looseness, the songs here sound, well, like pleasant but highly conventional roots-rock ditties. Nothing stands out, save for Oberst's perverse ob session with 'whores,' particularly those of the 'painted' variety. Ugh.
Bright Eyes get cathartic at the Opera House Tuesday (February 27).