Welcome to Cassadega. You're greeted by the staticky transmission of a woman pondering spiritual transformation and eerie, keening strings that sound like an ominous horror flick score. But instead of a Movie Trailer Dude's booming voice intoning 'Real evil lurks inside us all,' the tension breaks with pedal steel and a state-of-the-union address before Bright Eyes settles into the band's cleanest and most conventional musical effort yet. Cassadaga chugs smartly through plaintive roots rock and ragged Omaha folk-pop, heart-skipping over the highs of Janet Weiss's drums, soaring Douglas Sirk-type symphonies, ambient druggie electronics and Gillian Welch's impeccable harmonies. As always, Conor Oberst indulges his penchant for heightened dramatic states, a lyrical tendency that serves him best when he's gazing at his own navel. But Cassadaga's scope is too broad, too heavy. Oberst's political criticism is most effective when he's humble and straightforward, yet his overwrought poetics seem laughable, childish and blinkered when applied to world affairs. .