The People's Key
Author: Jon M. Gilbertson
2/15/11 | Milwaukee Journal Sentinal | www.jsonline.com | Record Review
Even the biggest fans of Bright Eyes will concede the group tends to lunge into its songs rather than simply to play the things. And its frontman, Conor Oberst, has lately agreed: He followed 2007's fulsome "Cassadaga" with a couple of turns as the laid-back leader of the Mystic Valley Band.Coming back to Bright Eyes with "The People's Key," Oberst isn't any less intense or ambitious than he was on previous excursions in this guise, but the relatively small number of musicians he works with here - mainly, fellow Bright Eyes alumni Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Wolcott - keeps his constantly questing intelligence focused and clear.There are extraneous stylistic touches - light hints of electronic dub on "Approximate Sunlight," glam-rock reverb on "Beginner's Mind." But overall, "The People's Key" tightens Oberst's nerves until they vibrate with the insightfully lunatic poetry of his youth, matured by the sense to know that not everything has to be expressed all at once.