Bright Eyes
The People's Key


4.0
excellent

Review

by Coloso USER (6 Reviews)
January 31st, 2011 | 33 replies | 15,164 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: We get it Conor, you're weird.

6 of 7 thought this review was well written

This could very well be Bright Eyes’ swan song. Hinting at the dying days of his Bright Eyes project last year in Rolling Stone, indie darling Conor Oberst sounded like he was ready to say goodbye to the band that garnered him fame as the poster-boy for skinny, bedroom-dwelling high school males everywhere, the 00’s answer to 80’s punk and 90’s emo. The kid is talented too, no denying that. Besides eliciting comparisons to the oh-so-comparable likes of Dylan, Oberst could weave his own warbly lines of genius. Whether they be drug-infused, lovelorn, or downright depressed, Bright Eyes’ lyrics tore at heartstrings with ease. Arriving at his most recent effort with the band’s impending mortality in question, we’re left with one, main query: should this be the finish line for Bright Eyes, is this how we want it all to end?

We’ll arrive at that question later, because I presently wonder if this is how Oberst himself wants the band to leave. The People’s Key isn’t simply more of the same, it dips and dives into territory untouched by the simplistic plucking of past Bright Eye’s releases. Surely, the artist didn’t want to go out with Just Another Bright Eyes Record, and The People’s Key evidences this in obvious fashion. The band’s eighth studio album features noises pouring in like never before, in quantity and type. I could have foreseen a more electro-based work from Oberst, but not to this degree. With crisp keyboards, impressive utilization of synths, and drum-powered rhythms galore, this is a new Bright Eyes, and a bizarre one at that. It’s difficult to be caught off guard by a guy that included a 9-minute song almost entirely composed of him seemingly rambling to himself about symbolism on a fake radio show of some sort, but the instrumentation in all its variety on The People’s Key does just that- catches the listener unawares. In itself, this feat isn’t impressive. What should please listeners new and old alike, though, is the utter nonchalance and comfort that Oberst pulls this jump in style off with. This shift in sound alone doesn’t mark up the maturity of Oberst, but his ingenuity and willingness to experiment (note the near-psychedelic “Haile Selassie” and the anthemic, upbeat “A Machine Spiritual”) is worth a few notches on the proverbial door’s frame.

Gone is the sullen, downtrodden man who followed his introspection with a dessert of pessimism; Oberst has undergone a renewal of attitude on The People’s Key. Famous past tracks of his like “The First Day of My Life” have showcased his more hopeful, lovey side, but never has he seemed as genuinely exuberant as he does on the electric (literally and figuratively) “Triple Spiral,” “But that’s the problem an empty sky, I fill it up with everything that’s missing in my life.” The best part about The People’s Key is that it isn’t simply eclectic for eclectic’s sake (or electric for electric’s sake); rather, Oberst fits the pieces beautifully. The shift in sound matches his attitude, and the product is all the better for it. There are dips in the album, surely. For example, the softness “Shell Games” is borderline dullness. The biggest complaint about Bright Eyes’ latest is most likely to remain an unconscious one among listeners, because it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly is irking about this album with so little obvious flaws. It’s not as emotive as Fevers and Mirrors or I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. Oberst’s bleeding heart doesn’t come close to the emotiveness he achieved on his two biggest releases. His most recent output isn’t in the same vein as these two, and doesn’t even aim for near the same effects, much less achieve them; and those looking for the same downtrodden, hopeless troubadour that they found a decade ago will be sorely disappointed (and kidding themselves).

Jason Boesel, the drummer for Rilo Kiley, described The People’s Key as the “best sci-fi emo album of the last 20 years!!!” I can’t help but agree, as The People’s Key is a strong effort from Oberst, but just can’t match that glorious sci-fi emo pre-1990. These are fittingly strange words for a strange album, if you ask me. At the very least, The People’s Key is an interesting output, which is more than I can say for Cassadaga. Conor Oberst has a new, electrified sound to match his no-longer helplessly self-pitying persona, and the genius is still there. Look no further than the always-exquisite songwriting and the influx of new sounds and devices to add to The People’s Key for evidence of this. It’s an odd one for sure; but then again, so is Conor Oberst (he begins the album in predictably strange fashion, too, in keeping with tradition). For this release, I urge you: follow the artist’s lead. Learn to embrace the new sound that Bright Eye’s has embraced with an open mind, and you’ll find similar contentment and justification that Oberst has seemingly found with what may just be his glorious swan song.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Coloso
January 31st 2011



94 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Please listen to the stream, here: http://www.npr.org/2011/01/31/133278431/first-listen-bright-eyes-the-peoples-key

It's not released until later in February.

kanecooper
January 31st 2011



630 Comments


yeah idk this album

i've only given it a couple of run throughs but it didn't strike me as particularly wonderful but i'll keep listening because conor

vanderb0b
January 31st 2011



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Album is pretty great, I'm torn between a 3.5 and 4 atm. Not as strong as the earlier albums, but still a fun listen.

cvlts
January 31st 2011



8954 Comments


chambered alt

callin' it

Hep Kat
January 31st 2011



15018 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

disappointing. very disappointing

Digging: Sir Michael Rocks - Banco

thebhoy
Emeritus
January 31st 2011



4459 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

no, except but it's good.

amanwithahammer
January 31st 2011



400 Comments


Whoa you're allowed to submit this?

DinoX
January 31st 2011



3582 Comments


I actually rather enjoyed listening to this but I have not heard anything else by this band

mallen-
January 31st 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Have to get this, haven't heard any of their material and I love Conor Oberst's s/t album

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 1st 2011



23798 Comments


haha summary rules, I'll read this in a bit

Oceanus
February 1st 2011



877 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Review kicks ass. I'll listen to the stream in the morning sometime.

TheBoss88
February 1st 2011



208 Comments


Maybe when you're Wide Awake, in the morning?

Hahahahahaha.

Sorry.

Probably will hold off and buy this.

Satellite
February 1st 2011



20685 Comments


he always has a song or two that i dig on every album, but the rest is usually a total snoozefest. i'll check this out.

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels

amanwithahammer
February 1st 2011



400 Comments


Approximate Sunlight is where it's at. Firewall is a really cool intro. Album in general is good but not great.

crazyblinddude
February 1st 2011



3389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool review. The album was enjoyable. Nothing too amazing, but a good listen nonetheless.

shazwagon
February 2nd 2011



84 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Can't get a handle on this, at the moment. But will have to keep on trying...

First impression was disappointment, btw.

bodiesinflight57
February 3rd 2011



869 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

First impressions are solid but I'm not sure what way it's going to go at the moment. Probably a 3.5 eventually I think.

natey
February 5th 2011



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

what a nice review!

Coloso
February 5th 2011



94 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks natey!

toxin.
February 5th 2011



12021 Comments


Didn't like The Devil And Gods... (not my genre) so I don't plan on checking this out.

But awesome review, man!



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