Fashioned in 1995, Shiny Eyes have launched 9 studio albums (with one other one on its approach later this month) and every of their information discover totally different sonic territories—folks, emo, nation, pop, indie rock. It’s a troublesome and virtually unfair problem to rank their albums, a lot much less their songs, however it’s a job value exploring.

Nonetheless, with each album, the distinguishing components stay: frontman Conor Oberst’s shaky, despondent vocals, and his existential, usually story-like lyricism. On the coronary heart of each track is a few type of revelation, whether or not it’s about love, lust, ache, or existence. In Cassadaga, this occurs in a magical setting with cowboy vibes and no legal guidelines; whereas Digital Ash in a Digital Urn exists inside a morbid electro-pop ambiance, like a realm of our on-line world.

Down within the Weeds, The place the World As soon as Was arrives Aug. 21 by way of Useless Oceans. The document travels by means of water and fireplace, life and loss of life, illness and well being. It’s arduous to position what territory Shiny Eyes haven’t touched; and if there’s any house left over, they’ll make sure to discover it in some unspecified time in the future. Listed here are our 15 favourite songs from all through their discography previous to this month’s launch, ranked.

Shiny Eyes, however make it rock ‘n’ roll. The guitars on this track from 2011’s The Folks’s Key are virtually generic, however we’ll enable it. Charming harmonies and a keyboard are layered all through the track, and an extravagant fruits of the 2 closes it out. Nonetheless, one of the best half is the start, with Oberst singing, “I liked a triple spiral / My maiden mom crow,” with a enjoyable rhythm buoying the track alongside.

This Fevers and Mirrors monitor greatest demonstrates the imprecise Victorian aura this album performs with. It samples the unsettling melody and a few lyrics from the 1964 Fiddler on the Roof track of the identical identify, and Oberst’s haunting voice provides to the darkness. He sings of the cyclical nature of life, describing it as a lure we will’t escape with out loss of life.

This primary single from the band’s forthcoming album Down within the Weeds, The place the World As soon as Was showcased that even after eight years of silence, Shiny Eyes are nonetheless in disaster mode. It’s extra stripped-down as Oberst paints gloomy footage: “There’s a playground of kids / Within the shadows of buildings / There’s a line out the church / The place your homelessness works.” His voice remains to be quivering and emotional, whether or not it’s resulting from these common points or his private grievances.

This deep-cut can’t be discovered on any streaming platforms; it was launched on a restricted version vinyl in 2006. You possibly can inform Oberst was younger, but he’d already mastered the artwork of breakup songs. It’s filled with lamentations, and he repeats them again and again, his voice trembling extra every time: “And I nonetheless name you, however I get your machine.” He begins with whispers, and by the tip, he’s yelling and on the verge of tears.

Opening with the strains “Should you hate the style of wine / Why do you drink it ’til you’re blind?,” this track is stuffed with private, miserable accusations. In the identical verse, Oberst asks: “Why are you scared to dream of God / When it’s salvation that you really want?” Every part is colossal, although the guitar is tame, and Oberst and legendary nation singer Emmylou Harris sing slowly and punctiliously.

This lovely acoustic monitor follows two lovers who think about one another to be “the re-occuring type.” Oberst compares their like to a storybook, and displays on the start: “We have been simply youngsters after I first kissed you / Within the attic of my dad and mom’ home / And I want we have been there now.” It’s a messy kind of affection, however Oberst paints it as romantic and meant-to-be, enjoying with concepts of future and destiny. His voice is assured and enthused by the tip, and the devices are booming like an excited orchestra at a marriage.

Recounting a narrative about emotional affairs, faith and redemption, this extravagant track sounds at first as if it’s from Impartial Milk Resort’s In The Aeroplane Over the Sea. Oberst is taking up the angle of a spouse whose husband cheated on her with a mistress, and she or he’s a vivid, difficult character: “Her mattress beneath a crucifix / On company performing miracles / With the Son of God simply hanging like a typical felony.” However nothing within the track compares to Oberst passionately singing the unforgettable line: “Oh, I’ve made love, yeah, I’ve been fucked, so what?”

This obsessive love track is an iconic emo anthem. Each line reads like a Tumblr poem a few poisonous relationship between younger lovers: “Does he lay awake listening to your breath / Nervous that you just smoke too many cigarettes?” Oberst is full-on enjoying a personality, and he’s tousled in one thing he is aware of will find yourself hurting him. It’s the second monitor on Fevers and Mirrors, and it units up the scene for the self-pity and panic assaults to return.

This twinkly, heartwarming ballad is Shiny Eyes’ largest hit, although it’s a bit deceptive. Oberst is hardly ever this optimistic, however it explains why he’s so crushed when a relationship ends. His love is deep and dedicated, and his voice is tender as he recollects the blossoming of all of it, quoting what his lover stated to him: “That is the primary day of my life / I’m glad I didn’t die earlier than I met you.” It’s the tamest, most content material a part of I’m Huge Awake, It’s Morning—freed from any sense of darkness, struggle or ache.

This ominous, piano-driven monitor is in its personal world. Oberst sounds as if he’s amongst the cosmos, singing: “I wanna fly in your silver ship / Let Jesus cling and Buddha sit,” whereas he wrestles with the which means of life. He doesn’t discover the solutions he’s on the lookout for, however he involves an inexpensive, considerably comforting conclusion on the finish: “This complete life is a hallucination / You’re not alone in something / You’re not alone in attempting to be.”

This political, country-folk track caught the viewers of The Tonight Present with Jay Leno off guard. Shiny Eyes have been selling the double launch of I’m Huge Awake, It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, and as a substitute of performing songs from both of these albums, they used their platform to protest the presidency of George W. Bush. The track is confrontational sufficient to offer you chills: “When the President talks to God, / Are the conversations transient or lengthy? / Does he ask to to rape our ladies’s rights?” It gave context as to why Oberst is commonly solid as some of the depressed voices of our era—he’s haunted by the state of the world as a lot as he’s by his personal life.

This evocative western monitor is an eccentric travelling track. Cassadaga itself resides in a bizarre world—one representing the city in Volusia County, Fla., identified for its psychics, mediums and general religious power. “Intermediary” creates this mystical aura greatest with cautious strumming, poignant violin and what appears like a bongo drum. Oberst is a mysterious narrator providing imprecise warnings: “As a result of I by no means know when it’s time to go / It’s too crowded now inside / The useless can disguise beneath the bottom / And the birds can at all times fly.”

This heartbreak ballad is greatest listened to throughout a breakup. Oberst wallows in self-pity to the fullest extent, exhibiting it off like he’s proud. His voice trembles within the typical Oberst trend, however at instances it appears he’s about to burst into sobs. He even breaks out in a yell, lamenting the betrayal of the one he liked probably the most: “You stated you hate my struggling / And also you understood / And also you’d handle me / You’d at all times be there / Properly the place are you now?” Although he’s clearly being dramatic, it’s inconceivable to not sympathize with him and wish to cry your self.

This track is lyrically good down to each line, which is spectacular for an almost six-minute journey. Oberst harmonizes with Emmylou Harris once more, and so they reckon with a love that should finish, wars that gained’t cease and the urge to be free. These themes intertwine and work together with one another, most noticeably on this highly effective picture: “We made love on the lounge flooring / With the noise within the background from a televised struggle / And within the deafening pleasure I believed I heard somebody say / If we stroll away, they’ll stroll away.”

Reckoning with poisonous impulses, dependancy, love, and ache, this monitor is probably the most intense Shiny Eyes track. It strikes slowly, and Oberst’s vocals are near whispers, however his phrases are uncooked and sharp: “I need a lover I don’t have to like / I need a woman who’s too unhappy to offer a fuck.” There’s a strong rigidity between darkness and love, and this storyline is particular however common. In the direction of the tip, Oberst proclaims: “However life’s no story e book / Love’s an excuse to get harm,” and it’s simply one in all his many despondent observations that make Shiny Eyes so evocative and particular.

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