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Has Conor Oberst Peaked?

The classic example is the Rolling Stones from 1964 – 1971, a classic run of flawless albums and then it just stopped. Like they came in contact and became vulnerable. Conor Oberst had a similar thing happen to him. For a run of ten years through the heart of his youth from the ages of 15 to 25 (1995 – 2005), the kid was the poet laurate of indie and held in awe by just about everybody including me. 

But, despite maybe Bright Eyes best live performances ever in 2007,  doubt set in with Cassadega.  From the fraudulent voice over that opened "Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)" to the fraudulent romance "Classic Cars" there was an emotional disparity between rock song and his songs and his fans. Sometimes, it was like Bright Eyes were simply not the best judges of their music, with the albums third best song, "Tourist Trap" relegated to an EP, the album had great great moments but it was still more of the same but worse.

The follow up was perhaps Conor's single most consistent album, the self-titled solo debut in 2008.  If you substitute "Danny Callahan" with "I Got A Reason" it might be his best album ever. And it would have to be because it has been slim pickings ever since: Monsters Of Folk, the Mystic Valley album, and the last Bright Eyes album all lacked something. 

It's not that it is bad, but it isn't as good. Perhaps it's not fair to compare Conor to himself. I mean, if there is still no one better, right? But really, Outer South and MOF were not good albums, though some of Conors songs were great, and The People's Key was pretentious in the extreme ("Somebody saw something and they said 'hey, it looks like a pomegranate…"?) despite a masterpiece like "Jejeune Stars".  Better was the odds and sods One Of  My Kind which didn't include the best song (you can hear it at the end of the movie) "One Of My Kind". Are you kidding me? Even the charity song by Desaparecidos was iffy (the live version much better).

At his Carnegie Hall show last year, Conor sat through the entire evening? Why? I was in the fourth row and he looked a little tired, certainly all his boyingnes has gone and his teen idol good looks seem going to seed. He wasn't a great front man, and there seemed a sort of ego about the guy. Saddlecreek are just like that. They are just dicks playing in their own little sandbox. Conor is on the record as never reading music critics. Why not? Most of them are gonna fellate him and he might learn something for the only people willing to point out he is not his own best friend.

On the current tour he plays two new songs and both are great and really at his worst the guy is pretty good… but has he peaked? Att 33, he better start reading his reviews at least. 

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