Bright Eyes attempts new sound

The classic indie band Bright Eyes dropped a new album this past Tuesday that is likely to be met with praise as well as skepticism from diehard fans. Their latest album, “The People’s Key,” has a bold new sound that is distinct from the band’s last six albums.

Since Bright Eyes first entered the underground indie scene in the mid-1990s, the band has been defined primarily by its acoustic sound. Although the group has occasionally deviated from their trademark folk-country sound, their simple acoustic instrumentals have always been a defining characteristic of their music.

In their latest album listeners will hear the band experimenting with new sounds and techniques. With a more consistent use of electric guitars, keyboard, and percussion, especially in the album’s third track “Jejune Stars,” this album has a much more driving rock vibe behind it.

When bands tread into new water, it tends to incite mixed feelings among listeners, especially when a band has as established a cult following as Bright Eyes. Whether Bright Eyes fans embrace or shrink away from “The People’s Key,” the album is still likely to surprise them.

Innovation is not necessarily a bad thing, however. When a band has been around for over a decade as Bright Eyes has, it is important for the group to continue developing their style and finding ways to keep their music sounding fresh and original. Of course, it is also important that bands stay true to themselves and their fans. “The People’s Key” is a far stretch from a total upheaval of what has made Bright Eyes such a prominent part of the indie genre. The lyrics are still as poetic and profound as ever with Conor Oberst’s imperfect but intoxicating vocals bringing them to life.

While the instrumentals have more of a traditional rock sound behind them, “The People’s Key” still has a definitively Bright Eyes sound; the album isn’t trying to sound like Arcade Fire or Kings of Leon, “The People’s Key” is very clearly Bright Eyes’ own interpretation of these more mainstream “instrumentalities.”

The album’s fifth track, “Haile Selassie” is another good example of how Bright Eyes is incorporating this new rock sound with their traditionally intelligent and provocative lyrics, but tracks like “A Machine Spiritual,” “Beginner’s Mind,” and “Ladder Song” hold on to that classic minimalist sound that has been prevalent through Bright Eyes’ albums up until this point.

Although fans will undoubtedly react differently to “The People’s Key,” there are some serious merits behind the album. It even has the potential to rival the band’s simultaneous 2005 release of “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” and “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn”. Oberst comes across as older and more sure of himself in “The People’s Key” than ever before. His voice is stronger, and the new instrumentals provide a rich and compelling backdrop for the band’s consistently solid lyrics.

Danielle Maffei, a Marketing major and DJ at WSOU, is satisfied with the band’s newest album.

“I personally thought the album was great,” she said. “The lyrics are amazing as usual. The beauty about Bright Eyes is that you never know what story Conor is going to tell. My favorite song off the album is ‘Ladder Song.'”

Bright Eyes will also be playing at Radio City Music Hall on March 8-9 if you find that experiencing Bright Eyes through your headphones just isn’t enough.

Emily Lake can be reached at emily.lake@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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