Conor Oberst's decision to release an album under his birth name is at first baffling.
After all, he is Bright Eyes. But it soon makes sense. For much of 'Conor Oberst' – up to the seventh track, "Eagle on a Pole", in fact – his familiar heartbroken vibrato waver is absent, which is disappointing. What's left is an album of mellow, amiable and benign country pop, reminiscent of Paul Simon's early works.
Its metaphorical frame of reference is typically wide, spanning the ancient and the modern world (from Socrates and the New Testament to shopping malls and Nasa), but its power to move the listener is reduced.