On the surface, the dynamic of this split EP has the air of an inverted, Omaha-based Karate Kid. Precocious troubadour Conor Oberst -- who, at 24, has stints in three bands under his belt -- trembles his way through solemn poetry like a bedheaded sensei Miyagi, while matching songwriting wits and musical chops with Neva Dinova, a plush slo-core group with 12 years of experience but only one album to its name.
Nevertheless, the folksy indie rock of Vessels illustrates just how much they learned from each other through their tangled collaborations. "Get Back" and "Poison, " two Neva Dinova cuts featuring Bright Eyes, maintain N.D.'s lush guitar textures -- the latter with especially sweet curls of xylophone and pedal steel from vocalist Jake Bellows -- but swing with B.E.'s singsong rhythmic patterns. Bellows's Dylanesque weariness, in turn, on "Spring Cleaning," a Bright Eyes cut featuring Neva Dinova, adds elegance to the former's typical acoustic strums. Brief but effective, Vessels is a marvelous appetizer that fans can enjoy while waiting for proper albums from both bands.