Review: Bright Eyes – Persona Non Grata


The indie-folk emo titans’ first material in nine years doesn’t disappoint, channeling a typically dejected aesthetic.

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Omaha outfit Bright Eyes, led by Conor Oberst, speaks for itself. The rotating group’s ramshackle folk-rock sound continues to win them plenty of favour in the indie scene, their name monolithic in its genre. They’re back with their first full-length studio release since 2011’s The People’s Key at some point this year, teasing its first single ahead of a vague “2020” release window.

The single in question, ‘Persona Non Grata’, is haunting. If it’s any indication of the project, it sounds as though it will play closely to Oberst’s songwriting strengths. The lyrics appear to tell of the rekindling of a dying relationship, using ambiguous, suggestive language to pen the uncertainties that accompany this. It’s emotively written, and the references to stimuli like “Ezekiel’s vision” work well with the track’s faintly unnerving mood.

Underscoring this are directly paced piano chords, clean drums and abrasive chorus bagpipes. The woozy musical resolve in the verses help bolster the single’s daunted aesthetic (not to mention the bagpipes), and Oberst’s as-usual croaky delivery does wonders for the emotional value of the various refrains worked into the song. Evocative and nostalgic, Bright Eyes’ latest is a great cut.

You can listen to ‘Persona Non Grata’ now via Dead Oceans.


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Deputy Editor 2021/22

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