Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bright Eyes - Motion Sickness

Artist - Bright Eyes
Album - Motion Sickness [Live Recordings]
Label - Saddle Creek


Imagine Motion Sickness as a vinyl or a tape where you have to physically get up out of your chair and walk over to your stereo to change sides. I say this because it will help to conceptualise the album. Take the first 8 tracks as side A. They draw almost exclusively from I'm Wide Awake it's Morning, sounding exactly as the studio cuts, but without the polish. Towards the end of the side, a track from Lifted and one from Fevers and Mirrors, "A Scale, a Mirror and Those Indifferent Clocks" makes an appearance re-worked in the style of I'm Wide Awake, but losing something in the process.

It may be with disappointment that you turn over to side B, but the remaining seven tracks provide a reason for buying this record. It is packed with rarities and covers including Elliot Smith (Biggest Lie), Fiest (Mushaboom) and Lua B-side (True Blue). The real high-light that draws the biggest cheers is the charged, quivering, Bush-bashing "When the President Talks to God". Although musically under-par, the weaknesses can be overlooked in lieu of the cutting lyrics and emotional delivery.

Motion Sickness documents Conor Oberst at a transition; the cross over from underground to big time. It is the sound of his most successful tour to date. He has matured and is more relaxed and confident. "Landlocked blues" showcases his one man and guitar strength. His voice always sounds sincere and empathetic. The magnetism of Oberst is in his naked emotionalism, his quivering tremor and personal identification. Were it not for side B, Motion Sickness would be a purchase for obsessive fans only, but the later tracks bring merit and catalogue the live Bright Eyes previously unavailable on record.

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