Music: Indie Rock's Dark Prince

On a pair of CDs, minstrel of misery Conor Oberst (a.k.a. Bright Eyes) proves great--one out of two tries

Conor Oberst has amassed such a prodigious discography of pessimism that he has supplanted Sylvia Plath as the go-to source for art that will make you want to open a vein. The sheer volume and relentlessness of Oberst's agony (at 24, he has made nine albums fronting four bands--most famously Bright Eyes, a rotating group of musically inclined depressives), combined with his puppy-dog gaze and lock of drooping-raven hair, give him an inescapable aura of adolescent wallowing. He looks the way a My So-Called Life script sounds.

The choice with Oberst is fairly simple: laugh at him or cry with him....

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