Perhaps Conor Oberst's brand of genius is best equated to The O.C. or Gilmore Girls but clever enough to not be as vapid as Keeping Up With The Kardashians. But just because Oberst's bubbles aren't as big as the Kardashian girl's doesn't mean it isn't bubble gum in the first place. The New York Times described Oberst as "both adorable and haunted at the same time." Kind of like Casper the Ghost. But there's no reason at all to hate the little cutie. If there is any cause to disregard Conor Oberst, it is because you are not a confused, teenage girl—or a Gilmore Girl, for that matter.
As if the Times' saccharine characterization of Oberst didn't inspire a strong enough gag reflex, there are those who have seen fit to speak of him in the same breath as Bob Dylan; musical treason worthy of a slap upside the head. In fact, inferring any artist's similarity to Dylan should have been made illegal a long time ago. With Oberst being gifted shared editorial space in The New Yorker as well, it seems the spoon feeding has reached the media en masse. His latest offering, a self-titled, solo release, has him crooning his trademark prose, replete with all the texture and complexity of an Applebee's appetizer and scattered across a pastiche of musical chops aspiring to greater heights than they'll ever achieve. As a whole, the album feels painfully contrived: a slick collection packaged and arranged to showcase Oberst's penchant for writing eclectic songs strangely devoid of any hooks. As it unfolds, one can imagine him checking off a list: "Song one will be a folk song; song two, a country sort-of-thing; song three, God, I wish I were Bob Dylan ..." and so on. Call it "genre-by-numbers."
In the end, the album isn't a total loss. But for best results, dust off your favorite Dylan record, pour a cold beverage and use Conor Oberst as a drink coaster. Now that's musical refreshment.