SUNDAY

One gets the impression that Conor “Bright Eyes” Oberst is, unlike fellow maudlin-rocker Chris Carrabba (of Dashboard Confessional fame), a genuine fuckup: His lyrics are a few shades too dark to qualify as universal, his voice too desperate to be widely embraced. Bright Eyes’ last full-length album, 2000’s Fevers and Mirrors, is full of allegorical, soul-baring moments that sound like high school poetry steeped in surrealism. (He gives his songs names such as “The Calendar Hung Itself” and “A Scale, a Mirror, and These Indifferent Clocks.”) But Oberst’s musicianship makes up for any hint of pretension: His songwriting, which features his strained vocals layered over taut guitars, is built around a solid, classic structure that both supports the subject matter and holds it in check. At times, Oberst even seems proud of the weight he purports to carry. As he croons about “embracing the ephemeral” and sits for fake radio interviews, you can’t help but wonder: Are his horrible times more fun than your good ones? Bright Eyes plays with the Good Life and Mayday at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $12. (202) 667-7960. (Brian Montopoli)