Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #44: "Firewall" -- Bright Eyes

Sometimes I tire of Bright Eyes, even if I don't want to. It's not that I dislike Conor Oberst's introspective vulnerability or his wavering vocals; there are times, such as on "Four Winds," "Lua" and others that I'm absolutely in love with everything Oberst. That said, I've never caught on with the band like many others have.

The People's Key reaffirmed that tendency. I can't say I openly disliked the record, but I found it incredibly forgettable, if something can be incredibly so. I couldn't even talk to you about the album, because I only actually remember one song from it. But that one song, well, let's just say it's a standout by far.

"Firewall" is the opening track to The People's Key. Although led by Oberst, it also features a sample vocal from Denny Brewer, who delivers his lines like an invocation straight from God.

One could see Brewer's monologue as the ravings of a madman, and it's easy to see why. Brewer's talking about some strange things, including aliens and offspring that could phase-shift between dimensions.

But what Brewer does is provide a set-up to one of Bright Eyes' most rocking songs -- relatively speaking, of course. Driving percussion underlines an ominous guitar line. Oberst mentions the Lion of Judah, a hallmark of Rastafarianism.

"Firewall" is without a doubt one of the strangest songs Bright Eyes has ever concocted, but the atmosphere it creates is infectious. If only the rest of the album could have been more of this.

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