Bright Eyes’ Version Of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ Will Impress And Rock You Even If You Hate Bright Eyes
I don’t have much time, so listen — what? It’s fine, it’s just blood, don’t worry about me. The important thing here is Bright Eyes, and their album A Christmas Album. Lisa hates Bright Eyes, so I had to go guerrilla. I did it for you. Up there is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and it rocks. Did you ever think that song could rock? Well, there it is, rocking.
Bright Eyes put out A Christmas Album in 2002, right before they blew up with the release of I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning in 2005. Maybe you never liked Bright Eyes. Maybe you think Conor Oberst’s voice is too creaky, or his lyrics too lugubrious, or his histrionic yelling too… yelling.
That’s fine, but you should know that A Christmas Album is light on these qualities. Oberst’s slightly unmusical voice is a welcome antidote to the usual hyperpolished crooning and warbling that dominates the holiday canon. It’s accessible, proletarian even. Make no mistake, Oberst can sing. He’s just not Burl Ives. And if you really can’t stand him, he doesn’t sing at all on “White Christmas” or “Away In A Manger,” and he’s almost unnoticeable on “Silver Bells” among a sweet-sounding chorus.
Instrumentally, the band does interesting things with mostly conventional, analog sounds. One of the weirdest (and best) tracks is the fuzzed-out, drum-bedecked “Little Drummer Boy”:
If you’re pressed for time, start listening at 1:45 for Sick Breakdown Christmas Style! “Away In A Manger” is actually even weirder than this; you may want to skip it entirely.
You can tell Oberst genuinely loves these songs — there’s no hint of irony or tongue-in-cheek. It’s a great mix of fresh arrangements and fidelity to the source material. It’s — oh no. They’ve got my scent. I have to move. Happy holidays, comrades! Listen to A Christmas Album!