Following last month’s much-acclaimed return from a nine-year hiatus, Bright Eyes have released a second song from their new album. The band, who revealed they’d re-grouped in February and released a single – “Persona Non Grata” – in March, have now released a second song: “Forced Convalescence”.
Take a listen below…
It’s just two months since the much beloved band revealed their return with news of their signing to a new label, veritable indie Dead Oceans, and slew of live shows which quickly sold out. Those are now, unfortunately, being reassessed while Covid-19 safety measures are in place. While 2020 touring plans are being rearranged, the music continues.
“Forced Convalescence” finds Conor Oberst at his world-weary best, picking apart the human condition and struggling to reconcile the past with whatever the future holds. All from the comfort of his bed. The slick, near-joyous sounding fever dream grows into a rich and languid swirl with help from a gospel choir. This may be as close to a Rat Pack-era lounge singer as Oberst has ever come. Albeit one with a head full of prose and existential angst.
Sometimes it feels like you hear a Bright Eyes song with your whole body. From Conor Oberst’s early recordings in an Omaha basement in 1995 all the way up to 2020, Bright Eyes’ music tries to unravel the impossible tangles of dissent: personal and political, external and internal. It’s a study of the beauty in unsteadiness in all its forms – in a voice, beliefs, love, identity, and what fills up the spaces in-between. And in so many ways, it’s just about searching for a way through.
The year 2020 is full of significant anniversaries for Bright Eyes. Fevers and Mirrors was released 20 years ago this May, while Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning both turned 15 in January. The latter, a singer-songwriter tour-de-force released amidst the Bush presidency and Iraq war, wades through incisive anti-war rhetoric and micro, intimate calamities. On the title track and throughout the record, Oberst sings about body counts in the newspaper, televised wars, the bottomless pit of American greed, struggling to understand the world alongside one’s own turmoil. In its own way, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning carved out its place in the canon of great anti-war albums by being both present and prophetic, its urgency enduring 15 years later.
In 2011 the release of The People’s Key, Bright Eyes’ ninth and most recent album, ushered in an unofficial hiatus for the beloved project. In the time since, the work of the band’s core members – Oberst, multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis, and multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Walcott – has remained omnipresent, through both the members’ original work and collaboration.
And while 2020 is a year of milestones for the band, it’s also the year Bright Eyes returns, newly signed to indie label Dead Oceans. Amidst the current overwhelming uncertainty and upheaval of global and personal worlds, Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott reunited under the moniker as both an escape from, and a confrontation of, trying times. Getting the band back together felt right, and necessary, and the friendship at the core of the band has been a longtime pillar of Bright Eyes’ output. For Bright Eyes, this long-awaited re-emergence feels like coming home.