Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Bright Eyes: Cassadaga [Saddle Creek, 2007]
In a banner year for indie semistars such as the Shins, Spoon, the New Pornographers and their major-matriculated kin, Conor Oberst's emotional directness stands out. He's verbose and sometimes addled. But he's not ironic--only Arcade Fire go for the gut with such gusto. From numerous contenders, my favorite song months after they arrived begs for a John Legend or Taylor Hicks cover: "Make a Plan to Love Me," which could have been written on his Blackberry and sent instantly to the career woman of his dreams--in about 20 pieces. A-