The People's Key
Author: Joshua Klein
3/9/11 | Time Out Chicago | www.timeoutchicago.com | Live Show Preview
Conor Oberst, 30, spent half of his young life building an indie-rock empire in Omaha. The last few years, it seems as if he's been running away from what he created. Following 2007's Cassadaga, Oberst put his histrionic, heart-on-sleeve Bright Eyes project on hold, focusing instead on sparse solo albums and collaborating in the Monsters of Folk. He works hard at deflating some of the idolatry and adulation that made him the toast of the emo set and a prince of the indie.The People's Key may mark a return to the Bright Eyes moniker, but Oberst taints this pseudo-comeback with the announcement that he plans to retire the name for good following a tour. So how would Oberst like Bright Eyes to be remembered? Apparently not at all, or unsentimentally pointing the way forward.In fact, this swan song, curiously rife with Rastafarian imagery, bears few of the shambling no-filter folk hallmarks that made the Nebraskan famous. Instead, he jumps genres, embracing sprightly new wave on "Jejune Stars," power-pop on "Triple Spiral" and atmospheric arena-pop on the anthemic, oddly U2esque closer "One for You, One for Me."There are glimmers of the old Oberst warble on the otherwise peppy "Beginner's Mind" and certainly on the elegiac ballad "Ladder Song." Yet The People's Key is designed to be disjointed, made to let Oberst move on.Bright Eyes visit the Vic Tuesday 15.