The People's Key
Author: Tris McCall
2/11/11 | New Jersey Star Ledger | www.nj.com | Live Show Preview
This is the best Bright Eyes album since (insert landmark Bright Eyes album of your choice). I say "Fevers and Mirrors," you may say "Lifted," but chances are you're not going to name anything singer-songwriter Conor Oberst has done during his past seven years of frantically managing expectations. Nobody but a zealot likes to be called the Voice of a Generation, and Oberst always has been a good guy first and a would-be messiah after that. On "The People's Key," he's set aside the backwoods trappings that have crippled his last few and instead returned to the new-wave pop that made "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn" an arty hoot. He's also reclaimed his pleasantly overwrought lyrical voice; this record is full of references to diving bells and mysterious ladders and warrior paint and what have you. The result is an album that plays like a cross between ominous Now It's Overhead and Billy Joel's "Glass Houses," right down to the synthesizer solos. So unless you can't take Oberst's strained and quaking voice (understandable), now would be an excellent time to re-engage with the great drama queen of the high plains.