The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Apathy is not free

Conor Oberst stands contrary to the popular notion that one settles down as they get older. Now in his 30s, he seems to get angrier every day..
Oberst is most known for his ever-evolving group Bright Eyes, but the man has fronted many bands. Most recently, he has released work through his punk outfit Desparecidos. Since their reunion late last year, they’ve put out two double-track singles, “Marikkkopa/Backsell” and “Anonymous/The Left is Right.”
The subjects of these singles are far from the neurotic insights that Oberst built his early career upon, but the results are no less thought-provoking.
I’ve always admired Oberst’s songwriting for not pulling punches. In “Marikkkopa” he adopts the racist persona that he sees driving Nevada’s harsh anti-immigration policies, specifically attacking Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A recording of Arpaio’s voice can be heard at the song’s conclusion, claiming it’s an honor to be compared to the KKK.
In “Backsell” the group targets greed and sterile, cash-grab songwriting. Oberst writes, “Every channel sounded clear / With tempo like a timepiece / You know you are on a grid you just slide the snare.”
Perhaps the most difficult to parse, “Anonymous” tackles a certain complacency in the general population. It continues on to show how social networking and technology may have actually helped some people break out of this “mind-control mix” of “strong / sleep-aids and hard energy drinks.”
Throughout this track and “The Left is Right,” he invokes images of the underdog fighting back. In “Anonymous” it’s the cell-phone wielding flashmob being compared to David, throwing their “little stones” at Goliath. In the latter, it’s Robin Hood activists “taking it back / for the greater good.”
But are these Robin Hoods righteous? Oberst does what few punk lyricists do and leaves the answer ambiguous: “If one must die to save the ninety-nine / Maybe it’s justified / The left is right / We’re doomed.”
If I’ve learned anything about fans of punk, it’s that they’re exclusionary. They’re quick to tell you, “Oh, that’s not real punk.” Whatever “real punk” is, you’ll find it in Desaparecidos’s singles. They’re angry. They’re critical. They’re violent. They’re a call to action and a call to feel.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Signal Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Apathy is not free