Throughout rock history, one of the rarest entities is the supergroup that succeeds at being more than the sum of its celebrated parts, and it doesn't help that this one--comprised of Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of emo heroes Bright Eyes, M. Ward of M. Ward and She & Him and Yim Yames (a.k.a. Jim James) of My Morning Jacket--has one of the goofiest names of any of them, reportedly bestowed upon the hipster heroes by a roadie.
The casual spontaneity that may have characterized these musicians' original hootenanny-like collaborations in 2004 is replaced by necessity with a more formal, hence joyless approach on their first studio album. Yet while there are scattered moments of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-style cohesion--with Ward in the role of Neil Young, contributing the strongest songs made even better by the others' vocal contributions--these are far outnumbered by weaker toss-offs (with Oberst's "Man Named Truth" standing as the nadir) which gain nothing from the assembled star power.
Faced with a song that pretentious and abysmal, you'd think one of Oberst's fellow songwriters would have suggested canning the tune. But if the monsters stayed mum about the more lackluster fare presented for this disc because they were over-awed by one another's talents, they've given us few reasons to be similarly impressed.