Album: Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band, Outer South (Wichita)

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The Independent Culture

With opening lines demanding "Dementia, you better treat me good/The human race is going through a second childhood," it initially seems as if Conor Oberst's latest album might involve a continuation of the infirmity themes which dominated his solo debut last year.

It soon transpires that he has a more general apocalyptic mood, however, Outer South featuring songs about such matters as the manipulation of paranoid delusions, the climate of selfishness, deceit and betrayal, the ruthlessness of capitalism, and, in the terrific, rollicking rant-rocker "Roosevelt Room", the bitterness of soured idealism: "Go ask Hunter Thompson, go ask Hemingway's ghost/It all catches up with you once you get just a little too old".The album is littered with pithy observations, from the cynical musing upon religious myth, "That's the thing about charisma – it makes everybody believe", to the poignant admission that "I don't wanna dream if it don't come true". Musically, the Mystic Valley Band occupies much the same folk-rock territory as Oberst's old band Bright Eyes, punctuated with the occasional taut blues shuffle.

Download this: "Roosevelt Room", "Nikorette", "Slowly (Oh So Slowly)", "To All The Lights In The Windows", "Big Black Nothing"