Conor Oberst: Salutations

Conor Oberst

Salutations is the latest release of long established artist Conor Oberst. Releasing his first album in 1993, the 37 year old played in a string of bands, before recently settling for an exclusively solo career in around 2012; though how long this phase will last is anybody’s guess.

Conor Oberst shares a musical stage with acts such as  Father John Misty, an acquired taste, but interesting and entertaining nonetheless. In true Pitchfork style (swearing is cool), they call this musical technique: “[being] kind of an asshole“. Despite being rather annoying, Pitchfork have hit the nail on the head. Acts such as Fr. John Misty and Oberst mix themes of self-deprecation and disrespect to create the general theme of negativity, portrayed with a kind of bitter humour. It is fair to say that whilst this music is enjoyable, the music scene certainly doesn’t need any more of these ‘faux pessimists’.

Oberst’s previous release was a solo album recorded in 48 hours using only a piano, harmonica and acoustic guitar. The effect of this was the production of a raw and touching record, praised by many mainstream music reviewers. See below for the ‘standout track’ from this album: Ruminations.

In a surprising turn of events, Conor Oberst took his previous release, a solo venture detailing his sense of loneliness, and turned all of its tracks (plus seven new ones) into a full band production. Recent reviews have suggested that this move only served to undermine the emotion in his previous album. It would be like Johnny Cash reproducing ‘American IV’  as a ska album, the emotion is lost.  Nonetheless, let this take nothing away from the new album. Whilst Oberst may have managed to depreciate Ruminations in the eyes of many critics, the reproduced tracks on Salutations  are brilliant, with songs such as ‘A Little Uncanny’, ‘Gossamer Thin’, and ‘Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out’ all standing out on the 17 track album. If you can look past the effect of this reproduction on Oberst’s previous release, Salutations is a good catalogue of tracks.

Focusing solely on the new album now, Salutations is a mix of bitterness and humour. The standout track on the album ‘Too Late to Fixate’  possesses some of the best lines on the album:

“You know I don’t mind the money/It beats betting on sports/And though it might get expensive/It’s cheaper than divorce.”

Mixing these two themes well, Oberst produces an album of good quality.

Despite being one of the longer albums reviewed thus far (excluding Sun Kil Moon’s latest release), Salutations manages to maintain the listeners interest throughout numerous plays. Saying that, however, this release is nothing extraordinary in the current Americana/Indie music scene, and for that reason, a rating of more than three stars would be overly-generous.

Conor Oberst has found a genre of music that suits him well, the only hope is that his next album is rather more unique than his last.

Artist: Conor Oberst
Label: Nonesuch Records Inc.
Release date: March 17, 2017
Tracks: 17
Play time: 67 mins
Standout track: Too Late to Fixate
Rating:  ★★★☆☆

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