Bright Eyes
The People's Key


2.5
average

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
February 1st, 2011 | 57 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bright Eyes is dead and there is no twist to the story.

It has been apparent for quite some time that Conor Oberst was restless with the strummed and claustrophobic confines of his earlier records; between the electronic forays of Digital Ash in 2005 and the happy-go-lucky(/luckier) tone of his 2008 solo debut was a very clear indication that the days of 'Lua' and such simple tunes were being traded off for gradually more diverse sounds. This was never necessarily a huge issue because Oberst's songwriting remained wholly in-tact, dominating the new textures he tried out, even on 2007's Cassadaga, an album deemed sub-par by critics and fans on the whole.

Unfortunately, as he grows musically more adventurous, the original and initial charm and essence of Oberst's lyricism becomes muddied. It isn't lost entirely, but few lines on The People's Key - the band's most daring album to date - really leave a lasting impression, and as such Bright Eyes lose the potential they always had to make a truly colossal record, even as they're shooting for the stars and grander contexts. When Oberst declared with all his might on 'Road To Joy' that failure always sounded better he was so, so correct, and that's why these whirring machines and noises do not suit him; he is still the endearing loser that he always was, but all of that gets dragged down underneath waves of spacey effects and arbitrary stops and starts.

This perhaps sounds like a complaint that Bright Eyes are no longer the same band that they were ten years ago, but all this comes from a perspective which appreciates Digital Ash and Cassadaga and sees no discernible difference in quality between the two - The People's Key is not just a different Bright Eyes album, blending the stranger side of his back catalogue with electronics and hallucinogens, it is genuinely the breaking of Bright Eyes at the centre, the abandonment of a lyrical focus and simple relatability that made them such a joy or fantastic pain to listen to. The only track here with real impetus is 'Triple Spiral' and it's also the most accessible; this is no coincidence.

On The People's Key, Oberst sounds like a bit part in the songs he used to completely own in spite of his self-deprecation and the end result is a very definitely 'fresh' Bright Eyes album still peppered with the same resonant lyricism and life perspectives but lacking in punch on both a sonic and songwriting level. No number of vocal effects and double-bass pedals (yeah, I know, right?) will ever overthrow songs like 'First Day Of My Life,' and it seems increasingly likely that the times of Bright Eyes exploiting that beautiful simplicity are over. And if they are, then Bright Eyes is dead. Doesn't mean they can't be reborn, but this album is no kind of pheonix.



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user ratings (329)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
February 1st 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

whatever

Knott-
Emeritus
February 1st 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

(this is probably awful, i wrote it drunk last night and fixed it a bit this morning, but well)

foreverendeared
February 1st 2011


14678 Comments


Naw it's a good review, worthy of a pos. I don't like the words "very definitely" together, though, but that's my only complaint.

foreverendeared
February 1st 2011


14678 Comments


It sure could use another paragraph describing how it sounds, though. You call it "daring" (how?) and "colossal" (how?) with "waves of spacey effects and arbitrary stops and starts," but I get nothing else out of the review as far as how it really sounds.

Knott-
Emeritus
February 1st 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Fair shout. I really find it tough to summarise how this record sounds though. I'll try and edit this up a bit - not so much in the shape of a new paragraph, but a few tweaks here and there.

Knott-
Emeritus
February 1st 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

like dat

kanecooper
February 1st 2011


630 Comments


pretty much agree with you

not a touch on earlier bright eyes

Hep Kat
February 1st 2011


15356 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

my man

STOP SHOUTING!
February 1st 2011


638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"This perhaps sounds like a complaint that Bright Eyes are no longer the same band that they were"

that's how it comes across to me. this is much better than i expected.

Knott-
Emeritus
February 1st 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Well, I think I counter that possible impression quite well, but hey.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2011


7318 Comments


This album is Knott good, I take it?

This is Knott right too:

pheonix.

That said, the review is solid. For even if I take the slightly rougher bits and Adam all together the review is still cohesive - and that's all that counts in the end.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

Rev
February 1st 2011


9439 Comments


well shit

Ponton
Emeritus
February 1st 2011


5815 Comments


You back for good

Digging: Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 1st 2011


7401 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was hoping for better, but I still quite enjoyed this. I need to listen to it more to form a solid opinion though.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 1st 2011


23964 Comments


i've never gotten in to this band....

cheeky review, glad you're still here (yes?)

Digging: Taylor Swift - 1989

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2011


17939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

stop fellatin wide awake so much, lifted is his best album

i liked this cd but yes it doesn't really feel like bright eyes

kanecooper
February 1st 2011


630 Comments


lifted and fevers touch me

lyrically

Phideaux
February 1st 2011


1655 Comments


I don't really like what I've heard from this album, but I've heard good things about the band in general.


Digging: Gates - Bloom and Breathe

thebhoy
Emeritus
February 1st 2011


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's like you're forgetting to listen to all the great melody idk

Knott-
Emeritus
February 1st 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

we disagree on which is a 4.5 and a 5 chan! (i think, close at least)

like i said wrote this drunk so thats why it got written. dunno aids.



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