The People's Key
Label: Saddle Creek
When Bright Eyes first hit the indie scene, part of their appeal was Conor Oberst's wide-eyed youth. At 30, all that stands out is Oberst's talent and vision. This very fine 2011 release starts out with two minutes of transfixing psychobabble before really taking flight. The same year that The Decemberists grabbed the gold by going Americana, Bright Eyes expand with some space-rock trippiness on a few cuts, such as "A Machine Spiritual." Even the more conventional "Beginner's Mind," "Shell Games" and "Jejune Stars" buzz with unbeatable power pop thrills.