Bright Eyes preview track “Shell Games” leaves my head spinning

Bright Eyes - The People's Key

There’s about as much variety in the latest song from Conor Oberst (this time, as Bright Eyes) as you could probably pack into one single four-minute outing without sounding, well, messy. “Shell Games” manages to avoid that mess by establishing a theme early on, and sure, the post-punk interludes mesh without too much trouble with the crowd shouts, stomping synth, and Oberst’s vocals, but there’s something off here.

[audio:|titles=Bright Eyes – “Shell Games”]

The track opens with ragged piano and some sort of warbly noise (perhaps it’s the signature warble from Conor Oberst transplanted,) but the road it goes down isn’t just a little back-and-forth: It’s almost wacky in its machinations. Still, sometimes, I can’t help but tap my foot to the beat, and sometimes, I find I’m really caught up in the song — it’s certainly no travesty, but it’s all over the place.

It’s nice to hear Oberst knee-deep in Bright Eyes again, because his solo material just droned on and on as he looked for heartfelt country-folk-rock (or whatever he decided to term it,) but I, for one, hope the rest of the album manages some sort of consistency. If it’s all as disjointed and scatter-brained as “Shell Games” is, I doubt I’ll be able to listen more than once or twice.

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