Bright Eyes – The People’s Key

Nick Mitchell ('13)/Eastside staff

Conor Oberst, the leader of a folk band called Bright Eyes, lyrically challenges the music industry with his poetic compositions of foreboding yet honest anthems. His beautiful lyrics combined with soft melodies can supply one with a portal into Oberst’s curious mind and imagination. Their new album, The People’s Key, certainly does just that, but it may fall short of mainstream popularity or of any popularity outside of the previous Bright Eyes fan base for that matter.

The album cover for The People's Key, courtesy of stereogum.com

The People’s Key basically explores the origins of life, what it means to be human, and what the universe is all about. Bright Eyes’ past albums have always been about conflict and struggle, but The People’s Key seems to focus greater attention on spiritual enlightenment. Oberst’s issues with love, purpose, and life seem to fade away in this album and it showers one over with a feeling of security and relief. This theme becomes apparent when lines like, “Everyday is a gift, it’s a song of redemption/ any expression of love is a way to return” pop up. Oberst sets the tone for the CD with the first track “Firewall,” by incorporating a short reading from a man named Randy Brewer, who talks about subjects such as extraterrestrial life: “these beings got out of [chariots of fire], and they walked like a man but they had reptilian features”. Brewer’s voice appears a couple times on the album and it provides one with a unique listening experience that can challenge the mind’s ego.

The melodies of The People’s Key however; are only mediocre and that shoots the album’s potential right between the eyes. Different sci-fi themed beats bounce through several tracks and it goes well with the album’s theme, but it would have been nice to see some tunes that had a bit more life injected into them like Oberst’s original hit song “First Day of My Life”. “Jejune Stars” surprises with some harmonious rhythms and insightful lyrics that help make it the best track on the album:  “How did I get so lost? / I’m amazed it’s just so bizarre all the things I’m afraid of/ Why do I hide from the rain?”

Unfortunately, this is Bright Eye’s last album, but it will be exciting to see what Oberst will do in the future. He has shown tremendous songwriting skills with his work in Bright Eyes and, hopefully, he can make for a bright future.

Album Rating- 7/10