Bright Eyes - The People's Key - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Bright Eyes - The People's Key

by Dan Clay Rating:8 Release Date:2011-02-15

If the rumours are indeed true, that Bright Eyes' shining beacon of alternative American Indie folk-pop has come full circle with this final release, The People's Key, then let's hope Conor Oberst doesn't die with them. 2008's eponymous solo album offered a teasing glimpse of the future as a solo artist and Oberst has the song-writing skill to match the best. If so, then what tastes of Americana can he conjure on the band's eighth collaboration?

Beginning the rather neat cyclical structure (the album opens and ends with a rather religiously-intoned monologue), 'Firewall' starts things off on a rather gloomy, almost sombre note with its march-like meditations on life and death. Thankfully lead single

lifts the album into more familiar poppy territory before the punky 'Jejune Stars' continues the quality, dealing with the existential: "Come fire, come water, come karma. We're all in transition," Oberst sings over a raging electronica and drums.

'Approximate Sunlight' slows things down for a rather tame but swirling waltz before '

melodic pop brings back the humour and the light. The archetypal title track showcases what the band does best with its tales of ordinary life amidst the chaos: "Just let me go, the prisoner moans/no-one has to know," Oberst sings with his usual fractured voice over a pleasingly acoustic backdrop.

After the rather ordinary 'Triple Spiral' comes the album's strongest few minutes. Both

rank among the band's best. The former, a melodic Bright Eyes' track of old, comes as close to the group's crowning achievement - 'I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning' - as anything since with it's personal rhymes: "Stay a while my hidden child, I'd like to learn your trick/know what makes you tick, nurse you when you're sick." The latter sees Oberst attempt to live up to his Dylan tag with, at times, uncanny resemblance on a hauntingly beautiful track before the closing monologue of the Modest Mouse-esque One For You, One For Me rings out.

Not the acoustic gem fans perhaps craved, nor showcasing the expansive, ambitious scope of 2007's superb Cassadaga, The People's Key is exactly that - a concise pop album written for the masses by one of its most individualistic song writers. The future's hopefully still bright then.

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