The People's Key

Bright Eyes - The People's Key
Critic Score
Based on 33 reviews
2011 Ratings: #631 / 998
User Score
Based on 86 ratings
2011 Ratings: #197
Liked by 2 people
February 15, 2011 / Release Date
LP / Format
Saddle Creek / Label
Indie Rock / Genres
Sign In to rate and review


Drowned in Sound

A collection of fleet, shimmering pop songs; a master-class in sonic splendour; a bold, beautiful and brilliant reinvention that should surprise as many as it will enthrall.

Tiny Mix Tapes

The People’s Key is Oberst’s most fluently arranged, lyrically graceful, and consistently quality batch of songs to date.


The end result is a collection of songs that feel solid if nondescript, that drift into the inoffensive dad-rock palette favored by the likes of late-period Wilco.

No Ripcord

There’s not a lot fundamentally wrong with The People’s Key; it’s just that we know Bright Eyes can do better.


A wildly spiritual record without any spirit.

I'm not sure why this is one of the most poorly received albums by Bright Eyes, aside from their collection of original songs. Although many of the albums prior to this one have far more standout tracks, The People's Key is a largely consistent album throughout and has steadily enjoyable if not amazing songs.

This album is thematically pretty enjoyable as well, with little sound clips spliced in that give The People's Key a sense of synergy that even their best work sometimes loses.

In ... read more
While not as critically acclaimed, I feel like Bright Eyes continued to ride high on their final album until 2020. While their heavier and rockier side isn't for everyone, his writing was still just as good as it ever was on The People's Key and it has an extremely powerful tracklist. While I don't feel the album opened a new chapter in their sound, it is just a genuinely well put together project I enjoy quite a bit
Firewall - 10/10
Shell Games - 10/10
Jejune Stars - 8/10
Approximate Sunlight - 7/10
Haile Selassie - 10/10
A Machine Spiritual - 8/10
Triple Spiral - 10/10
Beginner's Mind - 7/10
Ladder Song - 9/10
One for You, One for Me - 7/10

Overall Rating: 86 out of 100 = 86%

Overall Opinion: Sorely underrated. Lyrically and melodically it is on point with the creativity we come to expect from Conor. He is the voice of my generation.
Purchasing The People's Key from Amazon helps support Album of the Year. Or consider a donation?
Contributions By
patton, royalflush, philthy, erik, MarkyC, domvic
Become a Donor
Donor badge, no ads + more benefits.

Track List

  1. Firewall 
  2. Shell Games 
  3. Jejune Stars 
  4. Approximate Sunlight 
  5. Haile Selassie 
  6. A Machine Spiritual (In the People's Key) 
  7. Triple Spiral 
  8. Beginner's Mind 
  9. Ladder Song 
  10. One for You, One for Me
Sign in to comment
No one has said anything yet.