The People's Key
Author: Mona White
2/28/11 | UNLV Rebel Yell | www.unlvrebelyell.com | Record Review
Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has embarked on a new songwriting phase, shedding the band's grass-roots country sound and departing on a musical journey that is astronomically influenced on The People's Key.Released on Feb. 15, Bright Eyes' new album has lyrics based on aliens, spaceships, time travel and a futuristic outlook that launches the record into the next dimension., which is where it should stay.What is supposed to be a new era of innovation for Bright Eyes is quite simply a trite compilation highly reminiscent of the Beatles and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.The first track, "Firewall," starts with a monologue on Reptilian Theory __ the belief that the world is really controlled by shapeshifting reptiles and that many prominent politicians like George W. Bush are really reptilian humanoids.Instead of captivating the listener's imagination, The People's Key has a "WTF" moment similar to what fans of Garth Brooks probably experienced when he tried to reinvent himself in 1999 as Chris Gaines.Here's hoping Bright Eyes comes to its senses before the group alienates their loyal fans.Shapeshifters aside, Oberst's lyrics plead with the fans to release them from the ties of previous folk albums. "We're starting over," Obert repeats in "A Machine Spiritual (In the People's Key)," emphasizing Bright Eyes emancipation from indie-folk.The only commendable aspect of The People's Key is Bright Eyes' effort in experimenting with new synth sounds, foreign to the band's previous work. In the wake of other artists' successful reinventions, like Sufjan Stevens' The Age of Adz, The People's Key comes off as a failed attempt that is nowhere near as significant or palatable.