Record Review - 1 January 23 2002

Desaparecidos (the disappeared ones) take their name from the South American practice of disposing of "dissidents." While they have a solid foundation in Omaha, Neb.'s creative indie scene, they set themselves apart from their peers by incorporating more of a straightforward pop sense. The one thing they can't set themselves apart from, however, is lead singer Conor Oberst, the wunderkind behind the revolving indie-darling ensemble Bright Eyes. In the end, his overwrought delivery is the Desaparecidos' only handicap.

The music on Read Music/Speak Spanish is an engaging amalgam of what passes for emo and what hedges on the last vestiges of alt-rock. Hints of Weezer pop up in "Manana," while "$$$$" sits comfortably between the Foo Fighters' soaring power chords and the twitching keyboards of The Anniversary. Oberst's preternaturally impressive couplets often complement Bright Eyes' lo-fi acoustics — and their quality helps by making allowances for his over-emoting. But while members of the all-ages cult of Conor will surely fill their journals with accolades for Oberst's intentions, his vocal tirades are hard to look past. They're the one shortcoming on an otherwise pleasant debut that is a pumped-up contemporary to the melodic, muscular, sincere pop-punk of the Get-Up Kids and No Motiv.

Desaparecidos play The Earl Mon., Jan. 28.??