This review can also be seen in the latest issue of The Technician.
Conor Oberst got his big break as singer-songwriter and guitarist of Bright Eyes and has since moved on to other musical projects, including Desaparecidos. Formed in 2000, Desaparecidos demonstrates a subtle maturation in Oberst’s lyrics, transitioning from teenage melancholy to focused, politically charged angst. Payola is the first album from Desaparecidos released in more than a decade, but the band definitely hasn’t lost any of their edge since 2002′s Read Music/Speak Spanish.
Pounding drums and rapid guitar drive Payola, along with Oberst’s familiar melodic vocals. And with his philosophical musings, Oberst presents his anger in the form of criticisms of government. In the album’s first song “The Left Is Right,” he sings “If one must die to save the 99/ Maybe it’s justified/ The left is right/ We’re doomed,” which is a direct reference to the Occupy Wall Street political slogan “We are the 99 Percent.” With the band name chosen in remembrance of those of lower financial status who disappeared after being arrested at the hand of military dictatorships, it’s no surprise that the 2013 single “Anonymous” closes the album with a hate message of unrest about control and the wealth gap: “Can’t live today off that minimum wage unless you sleep on the factory floor.” Oberst screams his explicit disgust toward the economy, comparing the United States government to George Orwell’s Big Brother. Payola finishes as a punk rock album with Oberst targeting government, shouting “We’re the Tattletale/ We’ll see your All-Seeing-Eye in hell.”
Favorite Tracks: “Golden Parachutes”, “Backsell”, “Marikkkopa”, “Te Amo Camila Vallejo”
– Julie Smitka, WKNC Blog Editor