With his irresistible doe-eyes and mope-rock aesthetic, it's easy to understand why everybody goes ga-ga over Conor Oberst. Girls want to save him. Dudes wish they were afflicted with the same artistic angst that drives a man to scribble so prolifically that he's driven to mention, in nearly every interview, that he has left another 30 songs in the can. You know, like Ryan Adams.
I want to appreciate Oberst. When I put on one of his many records with different bands (the punk edge of Desaparecidos, the twangy mystery of Bright Eyes, the vast output under his own name and such bands as Commander Venus and Park Ave.), I almost imagine I'll get hooked. But then he starts singing, with that hangdog, wish-I-were-Jeff Tweedy voice and those Scrabble-dictionary lyrics - "Now a red carpet bagger makes a Blackberry call/ To the plastic piranhas in the city of salt" - and I can't understand how anybody can call this guy "the new Dylan." Because he doesn't make any sense?
Oberst can take comfort. The critics, kids, and Johnny Depp have bought into the shtick. Just stick to the Kate Moss diet, bat your eyelashes, and you'll never be sent back to Omaha.
-- Geoff Edgers