Whilst we're on an anticipatory tip, few indie rock songwriters inspire as much polarisation as one Conor Oberst. Be it disagreement over his best musical vehicle (Desaperacidos, if you must) or simply whether his quivering, distinctive vocal is iconic or irritating, whenever the man steps forth with new material the ears of music fans prick up.
Of all his projects, Bright Eyes is the most prolific and likely to rouse passions, so the release of its first new full length in four years, The People's Key, is indeed an important business. As is the first new track from said release, entitled Shell Games.
The song rides along on a fairly simple beat, backed up by light, often distant synths that eventually venture into the foreground. Frequent break downs offer a form of hook but the most engaging aspect is as ever Oberst's voice. Less fragile, more confident than I'd previously associated with the output of Bright Eyes, the style is more in keeping with his sound on 2009's superb Outer South, recording with his Mystic Valley Band. The vocal hook on refrain "Here it come, that heavy love" inspires a few repeat listens all on its own.
Without being an immediately stand out track, Shell Games does succeed in piquing interest in the new album - due out on Saddle Creek February 15th in the US - to see if this confident and relatively upbeat sounding Oberst is the one that appears throughout the record. Whatever the case, with a proven songwriting pedigree and a significant gap since the last outing, The People's Key is guaranteed to be one of the year's first important releases.
MP3: Bright Eyes - Four Winds
Taken from the 2007 album Cassadaga
Via Saddle Creek - Visit them here for plenty more free Bright Eyes tunes on the band downloads page.