Bright Eyes was an American indie rock band from Omaha, Nebraska consisting of Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott and various other musicians. Oberst, amongst others defined Saddle Creek Records as well as founded his own independent label Team Love Records. Oberst tends toward introspective, confessional lyrics when writing for Bright Eyes and his other bands, which include Desaparecidos and Monsters of Folk.
One of the first indie bands to gain mainstream success, Bright Eyes had two singles, "Lua" and "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)," that reached the top of the Billboard charts. Their respective albums, I'm Wide Awake It's Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn were released simultaneously, and are two of the best received indie albums of the Turn of the Millennium.
The band is currently on indefinite hiatus, with the band members still maintaining working relationships. Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott have both showed up either live or guested in studio recordings for Conor Oberst. Walcott and Mogis composed the score to The Fault in Our Stars in 2014, and have recorded with First Aid Kit who have acted as backup for Conor's live act several times.
- A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997 (1998)
- Letting Off the Happiness (1998)
- Fevers and Mirrors (2000)
- Lifted or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (2002)
- A Christmas Album (2002)
- I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (2005)
- Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (2005)
- Motion Sickness (2005): a live album
- Noise Floor (2006): a B-Side compilation
- Cassadaga (2007)
- The People's Key (2011)
Tropes associated with Bright Eyes include:
- Album Title Drop: I'm Wide Awake It's Morning gets its name from the album's final song, Road to Joy.
- Anti-Love Song: "Lua" is a cynical take on this.
- "Make a Plan To Love Me" is a sweet, sentimental love song...about advertising and marketing.
- A Storm Is Coming: "Don't Know When But A Day Is Gonna Come" from Lifted.
- Better as Friends: "It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends." The former couple are still in love, but realize it was better to break up since they ended up hurting each other so much.
- Bilingual Bonus: Some songs contain Spanish lyrics.
- Cover Version: The Digital Ash B-Side "Burn Rubber" is a cover of Simon Joyner, one of Oberst's influences who was later signed to Team Love Records.
- Deconstruction: A few songs over the years are lyrical deconstructions of some sort:
- "Lua" is a cynical take on Silly Love Songs, with the girl in the song being clearly feared to leave soon, and things that would be seen as "sentimental" in other songs being portrayed as unpleasant.
- "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)" is a cynical take on Sex as Rite-of-Passage, with a young man losing his virginity to an older woman, and feeling upset and empty after the fact.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Letting off The Happiness is very different from later Bright Eyes. There's a lot more songs about Intercourse with You and the drumming is much louder in the mix, and the band has a lot more noise and electronic dissonance mixed in.
- Emo Music: Before Bright Eyes, Oberst had a band called Commander Venus which was most definitely first-wave 1990s emo, and A Collection of Songs..., Letting off The Happiness and Fevers and Mirrors still have first wave emo influences. The People's Key is a second wave attempt 10 years late.
- Left the Background Music On: "An Attempt To Tip The Scales" segues into a mock-interview via a repeating ambient loop, which continues repeating in the background for several minutes - Finally, Conor Oberst politely asks his interviewer "Can you make that sound stop, please?", and the background music abruptly stops as the conversation continues.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Bowl of Oranges" and "Four Winds".
- Older Than They Look: Oberst is now past 30, nothing about him, not his face, hair or even his name doesn't say "kid".
- Precision F-Strike: "Lua"The mask I polish in the evening by the morning looks like shit
- Protest Song: "When the President Talks to God" is a very thinly-veiled attack on George W. Bush.
- Nonindicative Name: "Oberst" means "Colonel" in German. Nothing could suit the peace-loving Conor less.
- Spoken Word in Music: Each album generally begins with an extract of a recording or interview, to establish the direction.