The People's Key
Author: Luke Winkie
2/24/11 | Agit Reader | www.agitreader.com | Record Review
It's strange to think we're on the brink of a world without Bright Eyes. For all the polarization and scattershot LPs, it always seemed like the band would forever be an ongoing concern. The records weren't always grand, and Conor Oberst's persona could get occasionally unbearable, but we continually returned, news of a new Bright Eyes album always pricking up our ears.And now we have The People's Key, the alleged final album in the Bright Eyes annals, and in certain ways it ties up the band's legacy nicely. Specifically, Oberst can still break some hearts; the stormy piano-ballad "Ladder Song" is pretty much vintage in terms of its base-level traditions. Elsewhere, "Shell Games" hits an "all-together now!" shout-along crescendo that seemed to become more and more important to Oberst as his rock clubs became concert halls. And like most Bright Eyes albums, The People's Key adopts a strange and unexpected theme that keeps up with the band's stout ambition. This time we have a post-hippie, sci-fi priest narrating the record as it goes along?to the end where the first thing you hear is an odd little creation myth that includes an alien-crafted Garden of Eden. Naturally, it's quite confounding and a little jarring, and you end up wondering what exactly Oberst was thinking?you know, kind of like most Bright Eyes albums. The People's Key is far from being the band's best work, but it perfectly represents what the band has personified.