Conor Oberst, the pubescent brains behind Bright Eyes—that mopey wunderkind who had every teenager’s mother asking, “Are you sure you’re not depressed?”—is all grown up now, ditching his misery for a more laid-back sound on 2009’s Outer South. Oberst’s singing has become especially relaxed, even comfortable—a far cry from the wailing screams of Bright Eyes. The songwriting, though still scathing, possesses the off-handedness of an inside joke rather than the discomfort of an angst-filled projection. On “Nikorette,” when Oberst asks, “Will you talk me down if I get upset?” you can almost smell the shit-grin on his face. Discontent may have been the guiding light of Bright Eyes, but with the Mystic Valley Band, Oberst finally sounds like he’s having fun. With Jenny Lewis.
Sat., July 4, 3:30 p.m., 2009