The People's Key
1/30/11 | Listenbeforeyoubuy.net | www.listenbeforeyoubuy.net | Record Review
There is a fine line between artistic ambition and alienating one's fan base. Typically, fans rebel when a renowned artist spreads his wings too wide, experimenting with genres that he simply cannot master. Conor Oberst, the visionary behind Bright Eyes, has taken the alternate route. After releasing two disparate albums in 2005, "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" and "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn," both of which were critically acclaimed, Oberst seemed poised on an artistic precipice. Instead of taking the plunge, though, Oberst retreated into a shell, slowly alienating a devout fan base over the last few years with banal alt-country, even though we know he is capable of so much more.With "Haile Selassie," the latest single off his pending full-length, "The People's Key," Bright Eyes seems to have reverted to 2005, incorporating his singer-songwriter skills with a moderate indulgence in electronics. "Haile Selassie" opens with gutteral lows reminiscent of "Teenage FBI" by Guided by Voices, the pulsing lows meshing perfectly with Oberst's atypically monotone delivery. This approach allows the few moments where Oberst lets loose to truly shine, as evidenced by during the chorus, where hewarbles, "I seen, I seen, I seen stranger things, man?" We have, too, Conor, but it is nice to see you treading new ground again.