Album review: Bright Eyes - The People’s Key

Mixing pop melodies with intellectual pontification is no mean feat. Does Conor Oberst finally manage to fuse the two?

The latest offering from the band led by prolific cult indie figure Conor Oberst is a confounding beast.

The flashes of pop and melodic sensibility are stronger and longer than on anything he’s released before, reining in his notoriously Marmite-like pained singing and embracing a musical warmth miles away from 2005’s glitchy Digital Ash album.

That said, opener Firewall starts with a monologue on love, space, time, dimensions, Hitler and everything else, so he’s not on par with Jedward just yet.

He shoehorns complex reflection into bolder, brawnier songs than usual - and mostly it works, as on Jejune Stars.

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From the laid-back Approximate Sunlight to the ebullient half-canter of Haile Selassie, The People’s Key finds Oberst on sparkling and - yes! - accessible form.

3 stars

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