Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst seems to be the poster child for brooding indie rock. His musical career has been one of numerous trends and different outlets that expressed his poetic creativity. Many of these outlets being triumphs and others lacking that genuine feel. The People’s Key is where Conor Oberst’s career comes full circle. This album is a collaborative effort where shadowed members Mike Mogis (producer/multi-instrumentalist) and Nate Walcott (drummer/multi-instrumentalist) come into the spotlight. Their influence becomes one of the many factors that make this album a career-defining work of art. The Bright Eyes mantra is one that thrives on musical experimentation, releasing albums with a different genre in mind. From the electronic feel of 2005’s Digital Ash in a Digital Urn to the rootsy americana backdrop of 2007’s Cassadaga. But nothing has ever felt as developed and masterful as their 7th full-length, The People’s Key.
This album isn’t breaking any musical ground nor is it creating a new genre by any means. It’s only doing what Bright Eyes has done for years, but this time better than ever. With music at the age where the need to find new and upcoming artists is at an all time high, its nice to take a step back and remember an old favorite that made you love music in the first place. The People’s Key showcases Mike Mogis’ production at its peak on highlight tracks such as “A Machine’s Spiritual (in the People’s Key)”, the whispering in and out vocals at the songs most articulate moments show that Mike Mogis is just as much as key player in Bright Eyes as Conor Oberst. This is an album where every track can easily be your favorite, each catering to a different emotion and vibe but still holding a common thread keeping this an intact collection of songs. As for Conor Oberst, his vocals and lyrical content couldn’t be more pristine. His voice sounds fully developed opposed to his earlier awkward vocal stylings on Lifted. If you are unsure how to approach this album start with the polished “Shell Games” and work your way up. The People’s Key remains simple and straight to the point, ultimately staying true to Bright Eyes authentic sound. As Conor Oberst vulnerably states in the hiccuping “Haile Selassie”:
“I’ve seen, I’ve seen stranger things happen… happen… before”