CD Review – Bright Eyes: The People’s Key
If this album is Conor Oberst’s last album under the Bright Eyes moniker, as has been rumoured, then he’s going out on a high note. The People’s Key is the band’s most satisfying pop record yet. It’s tempting to assess it in reference to previous albums in the Bright Eyes oeuvre – the synth-heavy production is vaguely reminiscent of Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, and a few of the album’s harder-hitting moments recall similar songs on the band’s breakthrough album Lifted. But The People’s Key is arguably more successful than anything Oberst has yet recorded by not being beholden to a concept or a theatric sensibility, but by simply delivering pop hooks neatly stacked on top of each other in interesting ways. The drum lines crackle, the guitars occasionally snarl (especially on the indie rock anthem “Triple Spiral”), and Oberst’s trademark warble and hyper-introspective lyrics are tied to his best melodies in years. The album, svelte as it is at ten tracks, is even generous enough for “Ladder Song,” an “I Did it My Way”-style piano ballad that encapsulates Oberst’s entire career. The People’s Key might be more-or-less straightforward indie pop-rock, but it’s done about as well as it can be here.