After nine years, Bright Eyes have returned with a new studio album, titled Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was.

Announced back in June, this record marks the reunion of key songwriter Conor Oberst with multi-instrumentalists Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott for the first time since 2011’s The People’s Key.

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Opening, of course, with a spoken word track, spoken largely in Spanish, the record seemingly appears to have the hallmarks of classic Bright Eyes releases. While Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was is certainly a far cry from the low-fi instrumental tracks of the first few Bright Eyes albums, it even separates itself from more instrumentally-minded later releases throughout the mid-to-late 2000’s.

One of the biggest stressing points when announcing this album is that it would be a truly collaborative effort. As a result, the music once again moves further away from Oberst and highlights the musical offerings of Mogis and Walcott. These two are talented multi-instrumentalists that certainly offer much denser soundscapes than anything Oberst was capable of doing on his own, but is that what people really think of when they talk about Bright Eyes?

When people talk about Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was will they talk about the harpsichord in the background of “Just Once in the World”? Whenever the quintessential sad boy, indie nature of Bright Eyes shines through lyrically, a flurry of light instrumentation comes through to lighten the mood. While that might be good for balancing out the depressive lyricism, it’s detrimental, and even paradoxical, to the fundamental nature of what fans have come to expect from Bright Eyes.

Stream Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was by Bright Eyes.

Bright Eyes – Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was