In a recent Billboard interview about his band’s newest album The People’s Key, coming out Feb. 15, Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst said, “I was really burnt out on that rootsy Americana shit. So I tried to steer clear of that,”

Oberst’s trio achieves their goal of changing things up from 2007’s Cassadaga, a much folksier, safer album. The People’s Key has influences drawing from all over the musical spectrum — with sci-fi tinged lyrics (Kurt Vonnegut has been cited as influential) and grungier, harder guitars as well as singer-songwriter pop from the 60’s and 70’s. Every song sounds unique; Oberst’s ability to combine a variety of styles into one cohesive record shows his transcendental talents.

Keeping in the pattern of opening their albums in nontraditional ways, Bright Eyes begins the album with a monologue by Danny Brewer (of Refried Ice Cream) in “Firewall,” touching on themes that are explored throughout the record. The eerie discourse discusses a bizarre take on the beginning of the world, questions postmodernism and references multiple dimensions. The album as a whole contains heavy thematic elements including technology’s influence on humanity, the idea of realities present in dreams and questioning as well as desiring, religious beliefs. Sounds intense, but what else would you expect from a complex lyricist like Oberst?

Bright Eyes’ maturity and some sort of acceptance of their pasts shine in their next release, “Shell Games,” a faster paced, confident song that sounds similar to the songs on the band’s 2005 electronica album Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. No worries though, Oberst hasn’t lost his moody sullenness, which comes up again in “Approximated Sunlight.” A slow track that combines morose, skeptical lyrics (“Used to dream of time machines/ Now it’s been said we’re post-everything”) with a heavy bass and multi-tracked vocals has a trippy, psychedelic effect.

The People’s Key completely shifts instrumental gears in “Haile Selassie,” a pop song that’s not too sweet, but rather catchy and slick, with electric guitars and an upbeat melody. As a tribute to the Ethiopian emperor and perceived Rastafarian messiah, thought to bring eternal peace, the thematic influences in this album span even as wide as reggae.

Oberst’s quintessential raw, angsty vocals are prominent in “Beginner’s Mind,” which plays with experimental techno effects combined with a pop beat, as well as opening and closing with acoustic guitar. “Ladder Song” is a piano ballad that perfectly contrasts the rest of the tracks on the album. Slowing down the tempo of the record, this song is a throwback to Bright Eyes’s original simplicity and pure emotion with lyrics such as “No one knows where the ladder goes/ You’re gonna lose what you love the most.”

Juxtaposing weighty lyrical themes with mostly lighter, upbeat tempos is a difficult task that Bright Eyes pulls off with ease. Oberst’s hiatus before this record was spent fronting for the Mystic Valley Band and playing in the folk supergroup Monsters of Folk. Joining back together proved to be a good decision for Bright Eyes as seen in this artsy rock album, rumored to be the band’s last. Hopefully the sad rumors are not true, and Bright Eyes can continue to create innovative, poignant albums like The People’s Key.

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