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Album Review: Bright Eyes – The People’s Key

By on Tuesday, 22nd February 2011 at 12:00 pm

For a band that has been making music for the past 16 years, keeping the sound fresh can be a real challenge. Bright Eyes are one of indie music’s success stories, after finding fame on a small-time label and the internet, they’re now one of the biggest names in American indie rock. With their tried and tested lo-fi approach, coupled with Conor Oberst’s stirring lyrics, ‘The People’s Key’ is a welcome addition to Bright Eyes’ catalogue.

‘The People’s Key’ is the trio’s seventh album and their first studio recording in 4 years. Starting with the 7-minute epic ‘Firewall’, the track is more of a message than a song. It fades in with a sound clip which talks about solving mankind’s problems, the fact that space is expanding and religion. It’s oddly poignant and equally as eerie. Eventually the military-like drums kick in along with Oberst’s fantastic words and guitar, leading to a huge atmospheric sound which acts as a catalyst for the rest of the LP.

The album definitely has its fair share of potential singles. Tracks such as ‘Shell Games’ (watch its promo video here), ‘Jejune Stars’ and ‘Haile Selassie’. ‘Jejune Stars’ seems to have been influenced by the mid-Noughties wave of UK indie bands whose name began with ‘The’. It’s not the strongest song on the record but is catchy and radio-friendly, it also features the lyric, “we’re all jejune stars”, which will undoubtedly be all over Tumblr soon, most likely with a stock photo of the night sky.

Throughout ‘The People’s Key’, Bright Eyes manage to cover a number of different styles and genres with the utmost accuracy. Oberst can transform and alter his voice with such precision at times, it’s hard to believe it’s the same person. However, this is helped by the amount of effects used on his voice. During ‘Haile Selassie’ and ‘A Machine Spiritual (In The People’s Key)’, Oberst’s vocals have been put through an echo effect so much it sounds like he recorded it in an empty cave. It’s this loneliness in his vocals which is at contrast to the togetherness Bright Eyes usually bring to their fans.

Not all tracks, however, cause an emotional response. ‘Triple Spiral’ is one of the weakest songs Bright Eyes have released in recent years. It’s quite upbeat and has a poppy tinge, but it’s just not particularly interesting compared to the rest of the album. The majority of the LP has the same pop music ethos throughout, but one or two songs stray away from this formula. ‘Ladder Song’ is a prime example of Bright Eyes’ talents at writing emotional lyrics and music. Its slow, majestic piano playing is a much welcomed addition to an album which focuses on the use of a synth for the majority.

‘The People’s Key’ set out and completed exactly what it wanted to. Mixing a number of styles together through a journey of indie rock fused with intelligent and imaginative lyrics, the album is one of the best Bright Eyes releases since 2005’s ‘I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning’. Despite one or two tracks not necessarily warranting your 100% of your attention, there are more than enough great songs which are as interesting as they are fun. Some of which are just dying to be played live and loved by all of Oberst and co.’s fans.


‘The People’s Key’ by Bright Eyes is available now.


Video of the Moment #410: Bright Eyes

By on Monday, 21st February 2011 at 6:00 pm

You know what? I really like ‘Shell Games’, the first Bright Eyes single from ‘The People’s Key’ released on 14 February. It’s got a very populist sound, in the same way that football anthems get people singing along together. Mark my words, I imagine this is going to be very popular, come festival time.


Bright Eyes have announced a trio of English dates in July – details here.


Bright Eyes / July 2011 English Tour

By on Tuesday, 15th February 2011 at 9:00 am

Instead of retiring the Bright Eyes name as he once threatened, Conor Oberst (pictured above) and his band have come back together to record a new album, ‘The People’s Key’, released in the UK yesterday. They’ve also announced some gig dates in June; tickets are on sale now.

Friday 7th July 2011 – Birmingham HMV Institute
Wednesday 13th July 2011 – Leeds O2 Academy
Thursday 14th July 2011 – Manchester Academy


Single Review: Conor Oberst – I don’t want to die (in the hospital)

By on Monday, 3rd November 2008 at 7:33 pm

Conor OberstConor Oberst has always had the knack of causing division amongst his fans. Each one of his albums seems to have a completely different sound showing the talent and variety that Conor can produce. His latest album (bright eyes) has followed route and is nearly unrecognisable to past releases. The tracks on Bright Eyes also show the depth of skill Conor Oberst has and the tune that stands out has to be I don’t want to die (in the hospital).

Conor raves it up big time with this piano driven tune and the high octane tempo is sure to grab the ears attention. The song boasts exceptional lyrics such as “They don’t let you smoke and you can’t get drunk/ all there is to watch are these soap operas,” giving the track a fantastic sense of wit.

The tune is not some people’s cup of tea but its sheer oddness gives the track as well as the album a bit of extra charm. So what kind of thoughts do you need to produce this sort of manic song? When asked what inspired him, Oberst replied with a story of someone he met in a hospital. “This guy didn’t mind the idea of dying, but he just didn’t want to die in such an undignified place (as a hospital). He wanted to be out in the desert, under the stars. He told me if he was ever in a hospital that I should break him out. It’s a jailbreak song.”

The tune has its doubters but Conor Oberst has probably produced something for everyone in his career. Conor has a busy November tour list in America but if you can’t make the venues check out his Myspace.

Top photo comes from massayoshi oota’s flickr stream under the Creative Commons License.


Eden Sessions

By on Friday, 20th April 2007 at 7:23 pm

The ever brilliant Eden Sessions have been announced, featuring many of this years biggest acts. The sessions have been moved forward from throughout August to now throughout July, which probably won’t make much difference to most people.

Monday July 2nd – James Morrison
Tuesday July 10th – Rufus Wainwright
Tuesday July 17th – Amy Winehouse
Wednesday July 18th – Lily Allen
Saturday July 21st – Bright Eyes
Sunday July 22nd – Pet Shop Boys

None of the bands are particuarly shite, but there aren’t any that I’d make the effort to drive for four hours for.

Tickets are on sale for all dates now, with the exception of Pet Shop Boys who go on sale at 6pm on next Tuesday, April 24th.


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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