The People's Key is the new album from Indie hero Conner Oberst and his band Bright Eyes. The cover art is typical of most of their previous albums, with artwork (a wall of fire) only and a lack of band name or album title. Also sticking with Bright Eyes tradition, the first track starts off with something strange to drive away casual music fans. In this case it's two minutes of a man talking about ancient aliens and the evolution of man. This man appears a few more times throughout the album, but in shorter portions.
Oberst has stated that this would be the last Bright Eyes album, I for one hope this isn't true. Unlike his solo work, the Bright Eyes CD's seem far more intricate in both music and lyrics. Changing gears from their last album (Cassadaga) which was far more "Progressive Folk", The People's Key brings back the electronic style that was present on Digital Ash, Digital Urn. The result is a nearly perfect collection of songs.
Oberst is at his poetic best, with complex and intelligent lyrics that throw the verse/chorus/verse cookie cutter format of most artist right out the window. Whether it's the slow, rhythmic beat of "Approximate Sunlight", the raucous acoustic guitar in "JeJune Stars", or the tribal drums of "A Machine Spiritual", every song is vibrant and refreshing. At a time when artist like Ray LaMontagne, Mumford and Sons, and The Avett Brothers are gaining in popularity with "Progressive Folk", Oberst and company once again show their disdain for the mainstream by reverting back to a music style similar to Tricky, Portishead, or Kenna.
Even so, Oberst is a true word slinger, and it's his mastery of the English language that's most impressive. Along with Sage Francis and B. Dolan, he is the very best in the business.
5 out of 5 stars.