Over the past few months, Conor Oberst has quietly been keeping busy. He wrote the new song “LAX” for Ethan Hawke to sing in the romantic comedy Juliet, Naked. He recorded a new version of “LAX” with Phoebe Bridgers. He played harmonica on Bridgers’ version of (Sandy) Alex G’s “Powerful Man.” And now, with no forewarning, he’s released an absolutely lovely and desolate two-song single.
This morning, Oberst dropped the Bandcamp singles “No One Changes” and “The Rockaways.” The two songs recall Ruminations, the stark and stripped-back album that Oberst released at the end of 2016. “No One Changes” is a solo-piano song, and “The Rockaways” is mostly a solo-acoustic song, with Bright Eyes member and movie-score composer Nathaniel Walcott adding a few keyboard embellishments.
Both “No One Changes” and “The Rockaways” are hopelessly sad songs. Here’s a line from “No One Changes”: “They say you got to love yourself first, that’s a trip / I’ve been hating myself since I was little kid.” Here’s a line from “The Rockaways,” a song about remembering better times in the midst of a breakup: “Don’t feel badly / I’m barely angry / It’s not too much to contain.” Both songs recall the gut-scraping emotional intensity of prime Bright Eyes, and you can listen to both below.
You can buy “No One Changes” and “The Rockaways” at Bandcamp. You can also order a 7″ single of the two songs, which will ship around 2/1.