Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was

Bright Eyes - Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was
Critic Score
Based on 30 reviews
2020 Ratings: #228 / 818
User Score
Based on 376 ratings
2020 Ratings: #367
Liked by 24 people
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A.V. Club

Unlike the singer’s rootsy solo work, Down In The Weeds is rich in what brought many of us to Bright Eyes in the first place: the drama.

This fittingly titled opus finds the trio and dozens of guests, including Flea, fearlessly diving into the present and looming possible futures, the opulent orchestrations and chorales rendering Oberst’s tremulous outpouring that much more existentially fraught.
Northern Transmissions
A lot of time has passed, not in just years but in living, but this experience has only solidified the trio as some of the better collaborators of their own and, ultimately, any generation.
By the time the album’s 54 minutes have drawn to a close, you feel exhausted but in the best possible way.
The Line of Best Fit

The established sound of Bright Eyes' melancholia is as strong as ever on Down In The Woods yet it still feels fresh. Oberst's ability to consistently write sublimely distressing melodies as well as alluringly imaginative lyrics is unrivalled, and their grand return is really what we needed this year.

Spectrum Culture
Bright Eyes was always destined to return, and they’re just as beautiful as you remembered.
Consequence of Sound
The reunited rockers find both a natural and surprising connection between past and present.

This album is for Bright Eyes what Father of the Bride was to Vampire Weekend, a towering, multilayered, ambitious expansion of the band’s aesthetic conducted through a frank reexamination of its character.

Q Magazine
This album is the result of nearly a decade-long break and the time off has clearly reinvigorated them, focusing their minds to make their best record in years (perhaps ever).
Slant Magazine
The band continues to be unmatched at tackling the biggest questions with a profound, heart-wrenching intimacy.

Down in the Weeds avoids being either a phoned-in nostalgia trip or a wildly new direction that would alienate fans. Instead it continues Bright Eyes' evolution without skipping a beat, and manages to be one of their stronger records in the process.

Album 10 sees the alt-folk vanguard explore gut-wrenching heartbreak with their trademark honesty and an increased appetite for eclecticism.
Under The Radar
The time apart seems to have served the band well, making the album feel far less rote and sterile than the group’s previous swan song.

Down in the Weeds… was always going to be a song worth singing - whether that was as the warning they devised it as, or as the elegy that it’s become.

At once bleak, grey and obsessed with morbidity, and lush, blooming and gorgeous, it’s great to have them back.

If the immensely underrated Cassadaga was a roadtrip across America scored by psychedelic preachers and country singers in smoky bars, Down in the Weeds... is a twisted companion piece, one where the travelers rush home in fear that it's the last chance they'll ever get.

Conor Oberst and company have not lost their taste for grandiosity on their first album in nearly a decade, setting familiar woes against a dazzling collage of sounds.
Loud and Quiet

So many of the band’s great lyrical conquests have set out with an aim of finding the physical point within an abstract, from the bottom of everything to the centre of energy, existing on the precipice where drunk talk meets genuine profundity. But their sonic explorations in Down In The Weeds reach new heights, too.

Rolling Stone
Apart from the LP’s nonsense high-concept opening track, this is as close to a compact, cohesive pop record as Oberst has ever made.
The Sydney Morning Herald

Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was, recorded before the pandemic, features typically direct poetry that implores amity as much as it excoriates power.

Beats Per Minute

What comes reverberating out of Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was is Bright Eyes’ deep desire to create beautiful and ambitious music, which they’ve certainly done – even if the results aren’t as essential as what’s come before.

The Arts Desk

There’s a relentlessness of tone to Down in the Weeds... which, over 14 songs, can be wearing, so it won’t be for all, but there’s no denying that Oberst’s muse is solidly intact, and that there’s some brilliantly evocative maudlin damage here for listening to as the world burns.


Down in the Weeds mostly sounds like a fun reunion between old friends. It's a logical continuation of 2007's slick Cassadaga (less so 2011's rock-inclined The People's Key) — but given the renaissance Oberst has enjoyed with his side-projects in recent years, it doesn't quite live up to Bright Eyes' lofty name.

These are precarious songs, Oberst's voice as fragile as an egg, yet when it comes to songwriting, Bright Eyes remain a safe pair of hands.
No Ripcord

Though Bright Eyes' reunion is a cause of celebration, Down in the Weeds is at odds with itself—where the band balances music that is ambitious in scope with some of Obert's most nakedly personal work. But just like his complicated and sometimes narcissistic persona, there's a good argument to make about how his over-the-top approach perfectly suits him.

The Needle Drop

Down in the Weeds is a mix of old and new and old Bright Eyes, as well as hit and miss.

bright eyes are back! this time, working as a band that has never sounded more together.

Oberst’s lyricism is on another level, as always.

bright eyes’ music hasn’t really sounded as full and collaborative prior to ‘Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was’. the band seems to have further expanded past Oberst, which is promising.

“pageturners rag” starts out as a poetic, spoken-word intro with a 20s, Spanish, ragtime feel; the nightmarish ... read more
Bright Eyes’ first record in almost a decade is arguably one of their best. Filled with fantastic compositions and thoughtful lyricism from Conor that’s bound to tug at your heartstrings.

I’m really impressed with how this album takes its time but doesn’t feel boring. It tackles topics like death, paternity, doubt, heartbreak, and age in such a beautiful and honest way. Oberst’s uncanny ability as a songwriter is admirable in the highest regard, he truly is one of ... read more
Even if we have not heard from Bright Eyes in nearly a decade, the iconic songwriter behind it all Conor Oberst has kept himself incredibly busy. Since 2011's The People's Key, Oberst has released four solo efforts as well as his collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers in Better Oblivion Community Center. As one of the prolific lyricists of the last few decades, a return to Bright Eyes is wholly welcome.

Oberst and company don't go out of their way to reinvent their already established wheel. The ... read more
It’s an enjoyable album, but there are a few too many songs that feel undeveloped for it to reach its full potential.
A bit over familiar and a whiff of their sound being stuck on autopilot...but the album finishes strong with the final four tracks.

In particular 'To Death's Heart' is a real highlight and goes a long way to raise this album to a 70%+ rating.
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Track List

  1. Pageturner’s Rag
  2. Dance and Sing
  3. Just Once in the World
  4. Mariana Trench
  5. One and Done
  6. Pan and Broom
  7. Stairwell Song
  8. Persona Non Grata
  9. Tilt-A-Whirl
  10. Hot Car in the Sun
  11. Forced Convalescence
  12. To Death’s Heart (In Three Parts)
  13. Calais to Dover
  14. Comet Song
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Added on: May 28, 2020