Conor Oberst has, after a three year break, decided to resurrect Bright Eyes for what is likely to be the finale album of this moniker. The People’s Key will be sending Bright Eyes out with a bang if that is the case. Despite some shallow press reviews, I think this is an exceptional album!
There are some deep influences bubbling up to the surface on this album which features some references to the literary work of Kurt Vonnegut and Margaret Atwood as well as Rastafarianism. The opening track, Firewall, opens to a spoken dialogue from Randy Brewer, a musician friend, which deals with redemption and includes mention of Genisis, chariots of fire and aliens…it’s not a sunny disposition, and possibly one that makes people uncomfortable judging from some reviews.
Those reviewers that jumped on the scientology bandwaggon reference were maybe a bit too hasty in their diagnosis and maybe missed the whole point. Holistically, this album covers many bases including Rastafarianism and is equally introspective. The referenece to Rastafarianism is strongest on Halie Salassie with a references to unity and hitch-hiking back to Zion amongst all this despair that is going on with a clear hint of “you’ve got a soul, use it!”
Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott, the musicians that gave that signature sound of Bright Eyes, are on this album although there is a definate heavier rock orientation. He wanted to move away from the roots sound of previous work and I’m glad he did, how else can a musican get inspired if they are continually expected to play the same sound? There are some quiet moments as well: Ladder Song is a beautiful piano backed track with some great lines that, like the rest of the album, needs more than one listen….”you’re not unique in dying”…”you’re not alone in trying to be.”
I get the impression that the music press place huge expectations upon Connor Oberst, pretty much in the same way they did with Dylan. You cannot pin this man down and declare his colours, something the music press thrive on. Maybe they should ‘listen’ a bit harder. I’m in disagreement with a a fair few reviews I’ve read. I think this is an exceptional album. He is on a journey and I’m enjoying the letters being sent home.
You can listen to the album in Oberst’s living room:
In other Bright Eye’s news he recently had First Aid Kit supporting in Stockholm at which they performed Lua together:
Buy the Album: The People’s Key