Following the critical acclaim garnered by 2005's simultaneous release of I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
, Bright Eyes seems eager to confirm its status as indie overachievers. With anticipation building for a follow-up, the band's mainstays boy-genius Conner Oberst joined by Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott buy time with a six-song EP that serves as an extended preview for their upcoming album, Cassadaga
. A hodge-podge of Bright Eyes' assorted styles, it veers from the jaunty country sway of the title track and the easy lilt of "Tourist Trap" to the cool, subdued "Smoke Without Fire" and the discordance and disarray that skews "Cartoon Blues." The most satisfying songs are those that fall somewhere in between the surging "Reinvent the World" and an assertive "Stray Dog Freedom." Oberst remains a Bush-wacker, as implied in lyrical references to "the Great Satan"
and "the horror of Babylon,"
but overall, Four Winds
stirs up little more than a pleasant breeze.