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Reviewed: Bright Eyes Plays to His Strengths on 'The People's Key'; George Michael's 'Faith' Holds Up as a Pop Classic

Plus: New music from the Strokes, PJ Harvey, Robbie Robertson and the Dirtbombs

February 1, 2011 9:55 AM ET
Reviewed: Bright Eyes Plays to His Strengths on 'The People's Key'; George Michael's 'Faith' Holds Up as a Pop Classic

It's an excellent time to go record shopping: This week's slate of Rolling Stone reviews is uniformly positive. In the lead review, Jon Dolan praises the new Bright Eyes album The People's Key for consolidating all of songwriter Conor Oberst's strengths, and marvels at his ability to be "folkie and punk, old soul and eternal boy, high-plains drifter and hipster heartthrob" all at once.

Meanwhile, Rob Sheffield declares that George Michael's newly repackaged album Faith "holds up as one of the Eighties' smartest megapop statements," Patrick Doyle recommends populist folkie Todd Snider's career-spanning live album The Storyteller and Chuck Eddy is impressed by the Dirtbombs' garage rock interpretations of Detroit techno classics.

On the singles front, Christian Hoard says that PJ Harvey's "The Words That Maketh Murder" is "pretty peppy" for a song with morbid subject matter and Dolan raves that the Strokes' comeback single "Under Cover of Darkness" is an impressive return to form for the group.

ALBUMS:

Bright Eyes - The People's Key (stream two songs)

George Michael - Faith: Special Edition (stream one song)

North Mississippi All Stars - Keys to the Kingdom (stream two songs)

Todd Snider - The Storyteller (stream one song)

The Dirtbombs - Party Store (stream two songs)

Bob Marley and the Wailers - Live Forever: The Stanley Theater, 1980 (stream one song)

TRACKS:

PJ Harvey "The Words That Maketh Murder" (stream)

The Strokes "Under Cover of Darkness"

Robbie Robertson "When the Night Was Young" (stream)

Jessie J "Do It Like a Dude" (stream)

LAST WEEK: Pearl Jam's Amazing Live Album; Iron and Wine Scores With Major Label Debut

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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