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Bright Eyes – ‘The People’s Key’ Album Review

February 16, 2011

Bright Eyes’ newest album, The People’s Key, was released yesterday, and many are wondering if it can live up to the acclaim that it has already received previous to its release. NPR Music has called the album ‘career defining’, even going as far as to hail it as Conor Oberst‘s best album ever. This is quite a claim to make, and not the usual “play it safe” sort of evaluation. Anyone aware of Oberst’s past projects knows that he has been involved with numerous albums in one form or another, many of which have received praise; if The People’s Key is better than all of these past efforts, does that mean that the universe can even withstand the emanating brilliance? Will hard drives melt from it’s musical splendor?

I’m not going to say that I 100% agree with the “best album ever” claim, just because that’s such a subjective statement to make. With so many strong Bright Eyes albums (6) over the last decade, it just doesn’t make sense to say that any of them fall short to the latest. But is this release good? Yes. Is it really good? Yes. Is it a prime example of Oberst’s supreme songwriting talent? Most definitely.

Past Bright Eyes fans will likely love this album, despite the fact that it feels a good deal more polished than earlier records. I suspect that many Bright Eyes newbies will appreciate the fantastically crafted songs as well; it’s impossible to ignore the great lyrics and catchy melodies. Oberst isn’t charting new ground with The People’s Key, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t taking the listener on a journey. A track or two into it, I was reflecting on how absolutely immense Oberst’s songwriting talent really is; this latest album acts as a perfect showcase the magnitude of his genius. 9/10

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