Oberst claims that Upside Down Mountain is a “return to an earlier way I wrote,” but there’s no denying that over twenty years in bands, and the success of Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos et al, has taught him the craft of not only stellar but sellable songwriting. ‘Zigzagging Toward The Light’ has a chorus made for ‘aw mate’ summer festival hugging moments, ‘Kick’ grabs a slice of the electro tinged fashion, and the happy rolling ‘Hundreds of Ways’ has already enamoured critics and fans with its pop brass and optimistic vision. Melancholic violins underpin jaunty melodies, moments of quivering give way to buoyant hopefulness, but sometimes this move away from lamenting folk veers into throwaway alt-rock pastiche. Despite Oberst’s fame, he again proves no man is an island, and has roped in pals, including the First Aid Kit siblings, multi-talented musician Blake Mills and producer Jonathan Wilson. This is a decent, vibrant, easy folk-rock fusion that will be a runaway success.
LIVE: Koko – July 18th