Monday, February 21, 2011

Bright Eyes unlocks poppiness with "The People's Key"

Bright Eyes - "The People's Key"
Saddle Creek
-out now
4.5 / 5

According to NPR, "The People's Key" is Conor Oberst's best album; no minor statement, considering Bright Eyes has seen 2007's "Cassadaga" and 2005's "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning," let alone Oberst's various side projects ("Monsters of Folk," "The Mystic Valley Band"). Take him or leave him, Oberst is doubtless one of the most skilled lyricists of his generation, and on "The People's Key," he does not disappoint. He is still capable of drawing up strong, concise images, such as in "A Machine Spiritual (In the People's Key)": "And little Hitler sat in his giant's chair/ While dreaming of nowhere." While this may be no news to fans of Bright Eyes, what is new the groove of "Shell Games"; for all that Oberst is known for, perhaps it's these damned catchy choruses that caught us most off guard. The sheer ease of these tunes, when matched with such depth, is simply... well, we're at something of a loss to describe. But be assured, if Bright Eyes' obtuse lyricism may be, to some, off-putting, then the choruses on "The People's Key" merit giving Oberst another chance. It may be a bit premature to say this is his best album, but it wouldn't be far off to say it is one of his strongest, and certainly worth your time. Highly recommended.

Check out the video for "Shell Games."

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