Bright Eyes, A Christmas Album

Garrett Kamps

By Garrett Kamps

on 11.27.13 in Reviews
Scribbling all over a set of Christmas classics

Conor Oberst understands that not all carols are cheery, which serves him well for this 2002 album, originally released as a download-only charity LP from Saddle Creek’s website. Here, indie rock’s one-time enfant terrible empties his crayons on the floor and proceeds to scribble all over this set of Christmas classics. “Away in the Manger” kicks things off, building from minimal double-tracked vocals into a whiteout of bowed saw, distorted rumbles and the distant melody we all remember; it’s a far cry from your standard carol but it certainly works. “Blue Christmas,” “God Rest Ye Marry Gentleman” and “Silver Bells” receive a more traditional treatment, the latter especially, with its jovial choral singing and hearty helpings of the aforementioned bells. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” on the other hand, will remind Oberst fans of the distressed, depressive crooner that presided over much of Bright Eyes’ early catalog, most notably LIFTED…, also released in 2002 and a fascinating complement to Christmas Album: The former’s “False Advertising,” a festive, cheery waltz, could trade places with the latter’s “Silent Night,” a haunting, brooding ballad, and doubtful anyone’d be the wiser.