The People's Key
Author: Kevin Fuller
3/6/11 | Messenger Post | www.mpnnow.com | Record Review
There is a line as sharp as a cliff's edge when it comes to making new and creative music and going too far to produce an original sound.Bright Eyes has fallen off the edge of the cliff with the band's seventh studio release "The People's Key" and it wasn't a trip, they jumped.The album kicks off with cosmic weirdness expected of frontman Conor Oberst and company with spoken word about reptilian aliens at the beginning of human existence. The song, or whatever you want to call it, called "Firewall" sets the tone for a wild ride.The album's second song, "Shell Game," is the strongest on the album with pop licks and the lyrics of Oberst's wandering and battered brain. The problem with the song is that while it's the peak of the album, it goes too far to sound like something you find on F.M. radio. Every musician fails at some point in their career in terms of creating commercial success. The lyrics "I was dressed in white, touched by something pure," seem to be representative of how Oberst has started over with a clean slate musically. I'm not sure anyone told him what Oberst was doing previously seemed to be working ? no need to start from scratch.One song after the pique of the album, it drops into the lowest of the lows with "JeJune Stars." The confusion of putting metal guitar rifts that are over-processed with synthetic tones from the clicks of a computer mouse at the beginning of a pop song are symbolic of the sound the band was trying to convey with the album.The rest of the album continues on with cheese-filled guitar tones as pathetic as the album cover; Oberst, Mogis and Walcott fail to concentrate on substance.In "A Machine Spiritual," casual Oberst fans may sense excitement for a brief moment. That energy is crushed within seconds with the over-production of an acoustic guitar rift. For a brief moment Oberst shows signs of what got him to where he is. Again, it's crushed with over-production and noise.Oberst and company have taken the folk and country portion of its catalog and ripped it out, crumpled it up, doused it with gasoline and shot it with flame throwers and missile launchers.