Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


The People's Key

Author: Shane Handler
2/21/11 | | | Record Review
How is Bright Eyes any different than Monsters of Folk or Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band? One or two musicians for the most part, but Conor Oberst himself has remained steadily prolific since early 2007, when his last proper Bright Eyes album Cassadaga was released. Now that the once revolving cast of Bright Eyes has settled around permanent members Oberst, Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott, this Bright Eyes moniker that stood for gut -wrenching confessionals to alt-country grandeur has evolved to a more permanent plateau of sound on its seventh studio album _ The People's Key. The new Oberst direction plays homage to mystical philosophy as toyed with on his prior three releases, so this Bright Eyes chapter can be called more new age vs. new wave. The People's Key begins with Oberst's friend Denny Brewer from El Paso psychedelic band Refried Ice Cream speaking about how reptile aliens ruled humans at the dawn of time, before Oberst pipes in two and a half minutes later as a sort of nomadic voice himself: not exactly the format to get a party started. If you're looking to hear hook filled themes, look no further than "Shell Games," perhaps the catchiest number Oberst has penned courtesy of new-wave synths, amidst reflective nods- "dressed in white" and "death obsessed." "Jejune Stars" and "Triple Sprial" contain more punk influences with its short jaunty dagger statements, a breath of fresh air from his sometimes long-winded alt-country themed odes of prior albums. The People's Key features guest appearance from Saddle Creek cohorts in the Faint and Cursive, as well as further interludes from Brewer that border on conspiracy-theory ramblings, a voice that Oberst holds dear, but one that will turn-off listeners. "A Machine Spiritual (In the People's Key)" and "One for You, One for Me" are mid-tempo tunes that sport sequenced beats and Oberst's new lyrical reggae inspirations of liberation and redemption; while on "Haile Selassie" Oberst sings of a universal oneness. Obviously Bright Eyes has entered a new world of discovery that is a few crystals short of entering Enya territory, making The People's Key a love it or hate it recording. But like Bob Dylan during his Slow Training Coming/Saved era, this will serve as another chapter in his still burgeoning career
The People's Key

The People's Key

LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3


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