By: Staff –
Some things are worth the wait. It’s been nine years since Bright Eyes released new material. Today, they unveil the first recordings from their recent studio sessions, “Persona Non Grata”. The band, who revealed they’d re-grouped after a lengthy hiatus in February by announcing a a world tour, issued the following statement with the track:
“Strange days indeed. Just wanted to send our love and solidarity to everyone out there feeling alone, frightened and isolated. You are not alone. We are all in this together. We, like so many others, had many plans for 2020. We will be releasing a new album this year no matter what. We also have lots of touring plans which we are now reassessing. We will keep you involved as things progress. We very much want to get on the road and hope to see you all in person sooner rather than later. Until then, here is a song called “Persona Non Grata.” We hope you like it. It was hard to decide which song to share first because they are all quite different, but this one seemed as good of a place as any to start. And it has bagpipes! Which is a first for us. We hope this finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe. Thinking of you fondly.”
Sometimes it feels like you hear a Bright Eyes song with your whole body. From Conor Oberst’s early recordings in an Omaha basement in 1995 all the way up to 2020, Bright Eyes’ music tries to unravel the impossible tangles of dissent: personal and political, external and internal. It’s a study of the beauty in unsteadiness in all its forms – in a voice, beliefs, love, identity, and what fills up the spaces in-between. And in so many ways, it’s just about searching for a way through.
The year 2020 is full of significant anniversaries for Bright Eyes. Fevers and Mirrors was released 20 years ago this May, while Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning both turned 15 in January. The latter, a singer-songwriter tour-de-force released amidst the Bush presidency and Iraq war, wades through incisive anti-war rhetoric and micro, intimate calamities. On the title track and throughout the record, Oberst sings about body counts in the newspaper, televised wars, the bottomless pit of American greed, struggling to understand the world alongside one’s own turmoil. In its own way, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning carved out its place in the canon of great anti-war albums by being both present and prophetic, its urgency enduring 15 years later.
And while 2020 is a year of milestones for the band, it’s also the year Bright Eyes returns, newly signed to indie label Dead Oceans. Amidst the current overwhelming uncertainty and upheaval of global and personal worlds, Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott reunited under the moniker as both an escape from, and a confrontation of, trying times. Getting the band back together felt right, and necessary, and the friendship at the core of the band has been a longtime pillar of Bright Eyes’ output. For Bright Eyes, this long-awaited re-emergence feels like coming home.