Lee’s Listening Stack: Bright Eyes – ‘The People’s Key’
The People’s Key
Once the precocious boy wonder, Conner Oberst has fostered his iconic indie reputation, branching off from the Bright Eyes branding and nurturing a solo career that suggested his original outfit has now become a thing of the past. But here we are, with a new Bright Eyes album and a stable line-up to boot. Once a sprawling communal congregation, it now boasts Oberst and longtime co-conspirators Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis as the anchors of a solid core line-up, while presiding over the usual cast of thousands. Still, stability hasn’t restrained Oberst in the least. Far from it in fact. The People’s Key is as odd and ambitious as anything in the band’s past canon, a weird and occasionally unwieldy parable that begins and ends with spoken weird sermons that preach a sort of doomsday –like spiel which demands to be deciphered. The music itself emphasizes atmospherics that wash over the melodies and relegate them to a cosmic sphere where robotic rhythms and techno tendencies often seem predominant.
Fortunately, all is not lost. “Jejune Stars,” and “Beginner’s Mind” exude enough energy to qualify them as reliable rockers, while “Triple Spiral” boasts a poppy effervescence that’s positively euphoric by Oberst’s usual standards. Those three songs alone make The People’s Key more than listenable and even alluring in places. Unfortunately, by the time one cuts through the clutter to seize on the more melodic aspects of the album, an alternate impression’s already been implanted. Consequently, it’s impossible to offer an initial verdict with only a cursory listen. The People’s Key has populist appeal, but only to a limited degree. – Lee Zimmerman
Lee Zimmerman is a contributor to a variety of publications, including Blurt, M Music & Musicians, New Times, Goldmine and Amplifier
This review appears courtesy of Amplifier, 50,000 Watts of Non-Stop Indie Rock