Starting off an album with ambient noise funk and random recorded voices is about as original as the “Wilhelm scream”—but after two minutes the music finally begins, and you start to notice the polish on Bright Eyes’ Cassadaga. The new offering from bandleader Conor Oberst and the small-label kids from Saddle Creek Records offers cleaner production and something else that you won’t notice as much in the band’s previous offerings—a band—including appearances from M. Ward and country songstress Gillian Welch. Cassadaga is a decidedly mature step for the 20-something country/indie rocker, and quite a departure from 2005’s I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and unrecognizable from 2000’s Fevers and Mirrors. Some things are an acquired taste: escargot, the AMC Pacer and Conor Oberst’s voice. Tracks like “Cleanse Song” come across as a melodic Jeff Tweedy rip before Oberst’s wispy vocals on “If the Brakeman Turns My Way” bring you back to the album’s overall chipper demeanor. Aside from a random, I repeat, RANDOM sample several minutes into “Coat Check Dream Song” (which begs the question, “Is that Farsi?”), Cassadaga is a good pickup for the Bright Eyes fiend, or someone who long ago left them for dead.