By Pat Quinn
The People’s Key is Conor Oberst’s search for the meaning of life. The album as a whole touches on scientific and theological arguments to answer the question many artists before him have tried to answer.
While the subject matter of the album isn’t that unique, the blend of stringed and synthetic sounds Oberst orchestrates on this album is.
The album begins with a slightly insane man rambling about space, time, aliens and the existence of humanity. Like the rambling man, the beginning of the album is a little spacey featuring more staccato percussion and a stronger lyrical focus. It isn’t until “Haile Selassie” that Oberst and Bright Eyes find the balance of music and melody that make the second half of the album strong. The ethereal sounding “Haile Selassie” sends the listener into a calm state where the question “What is the meaning of life?” really sets in.
The 9th track, “Ladder Song” is the simple gem of the album where Oberst really finds his lyrical voice and sets up the closing track “One For You, One For Me” nicely.
Overall The People’s Key starts of slowly and isn’t anything too unique. However, diehard Bright Eyes fans should enjoy the second half of the album.
Stream the album in its entirety at NPR.