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Bright Eyes Tap Phoebe Bridgers for an Elliott Smith Cover That Goes to 11

Bright Eyes crank the amps up on their new cover of Elliott Smith’s “St. Ides Heaven.” The cover will appear on the group’s upcoming EP, Letting Off the Happiness: A Companion, which will arrive May 27 via Dead Oceans.

Where Smith’s original version of “St. Ides Heaven” is a tense, lo-fi acoustic track, Bright Eyes inject the song with a jolt of electricity, pairing crunching guitars with a swelling chorus of horns, synthesizers, strings, and more. Capping it all off, the song features back-up vocals from Conor Oberst’s Better Oblivion Community Center bandmate Phoebe Bridgers.

Letting Off the Happiness: A Companion is part of Bright Eyes’ ambitious new reissue campaign, where they’ll re-release their entire catalog while also dropping an accompanying Companion EP for each LP. The EPs will feature new versions of five tracks from the original albums, plus a cover of a song by an artist Bright Eyes was inspired by at the time they were working on the original LP.

Along with Bridgers’ guest spot on the “St. Ides Heaven” cover, Letting Off the Happiness: A Companion features two contributions from Waxahatchee (on “The City Has Sex” and “Contrast and Compare”), as well as features from M. Ward and Becky Stark. Bridgers will also feature prominently on Fevers and Mirrors: A Companion, which arrives May 27 as well, along with A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997: A Companion. 

Bright Eyes, who released their most recent album, Down the Weeds, Where the World Once Was, in 2020, are set to return to the road Wednesday, March 23, in St. Paul, Minnesota. The band’s extensive itinerary will continue through the spring and summer, wrapping with a pair of hometown shows at the Admiral in Omaha, Nebraska on July 2 and 3.

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