By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
It's not because the record is flawless far from it, what with the abundant razor-to-wrist earnestness and bloated aggrandizing. The phone-recorded psychobabble opener "Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)" announces the record's metaphysical theme with the subtlety of a carnival gypsy.The swaggering chutzpah of "Soul Singer in a Session Band" recalls the rhinestone portentousness of Neil Diamond's "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show." And what's up with "No One Would Riot for Less" nicking post-Waters Pink Floyd? Or the Peter Gabrielinspired tour of Middle Eastern exotica on "Coat Check Dream Song?" Shit, if nearly half of it wasn't such a drag, Cassadaga would be amazing.
But redemption? Start with the high-harmonizing, floor-stomping chorus of "Four Winds"a rare instance where fiddle (singular) is chosen over violins (plural), while Conor screams about the devil and Babylon while indiscriminately name-checking a Joan Didion book. Weirdly, it still works, and so does "Hot Knives," a hard-swinging shuffle about "hot knives on a dance floor" (whatever that means). "Classic Cars" is so confident in its construction that wonky sentiments about lying "beside her in a bed made for a queen" and getting "out of California" get a pass. And comparatively easygoing Americana tunes like "Middleman" and "I Must Belong Somewhere" show off Conor's prodigious gifts as a songwriter. At its core, that's where Cassadaga succeedsvia moments so brilliant we're blind to the duds. Anyone with a few Dylan or Diamond records certainly knows the feeling.
Bright Eyes plays Town Hall May 25 through June 1, with no show the 27th, the-townhall-nyc.org.