After the simultaneous release of the folk-inspired I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and the electronic, synth-laden Digital Ash in a Digital Urn in 2005, fans began to speculate over which direction Bright Eyes would take in their next effort. The new Four Winds EP suggests that, despite his split musical personality, Conor Oberst has reconciled the two styles, blending his familiar soft acoustic side with experimental electronic sounds.
One of the major impacts on Oberst’s songwriting this time around is the addition of instrumentalists Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis to the Bright Eyes mix. Though their presence has been apparent on previous records, they have now been named as permanent members, a title belonging only to the two and Oberst himself. On Four Winds, the trio makes a tight unit and explores territory outside of the regular Bright Eyes milieu–the colorful, mellow groove of “Stray Dog Freedom” sits in contrast to the agitated rocker “Cartoon Blues,” with the latter boasting some of Bright Eyes’ strangest and most compelling use of electronic sounds yet.
Four Winds is a perfect step forward for the new Bright Eyes, and an optimistic look towards their forthcoming summer LP, Cassadaga.