A lone pair of footsteps meanders down a street in Omaha, into the neighborhood bar and then into a near-imperceptible tangle of conversations – about wars, sleepless nights – a surrealist din pushing against the sound of ragtime. Then, as the background quiets, a line rings out clearly: “I think about how much people need – what they need right now is to feel like there’s something to look forward to. We have to hold on. We have to hold on.” Thus we enter the fitting, cacophonic introduction to Bright Eyes’ tenth studio album and first release since 2011. Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was is an enormous record caught in the profound in-between of grief and clarity – one arm wrestling its demons, the other gripping the hand of love, in spite of it. The end of Bright Eyes’ unofficial hiatus came naturally. Conor Oberst pitched the idea of getting the band back together during a 2017 Christmas party at Bright Eyes bandmate Nathaniel Walcott’s Los Angeles home. The two huddled in the bathroom and called Mike Mogis, who was Christmas shopping at an Omaha mall. Mogis immediately said yes. There was no specific catalyst for the trio, aside from finding comfort amidst a decade of brutal change. Sure, Why now? is the question, but for a project whose friendship is at the core, it was simply Why not?