Friday, May 30, 2014


Big sounds and big adventures await with the new Black Keys disc.  As anti-star as they want to be, there's no denying this is one of the world's biggest groups now, with Turn Blue entering charts at #1 or close in many countries, and the summer tour booked for the biggest enormo-domes.  Then there's the sound crafted with co-producer Danger Mouse, hardly the rough and bluesy murk of their early days.  Yet shall we tarnish them with a commercial paintbrush?  Hell no, it's brilliant stuff.

There are more instruments now, the edges are softer and the mystery is turned up.  Comfortable in their experiments, we get lots of keyboards, more textures, falsetto leads, and a looser feel throughout.  The songs have wider gaps, room to drop in a few bars of mood music or tasty guitar.  Above all, it does not rock.  It grooves for sure, but these guys are more soul men now, looking to get under your skin.  The title cut is sci-fi Curtis Mayfield, and smooth as silk.  The dance beat of Fever is all in the bass, with the cheesiest synth in history, as creepy as is it infectious.  It's Up To You Now has a tribal, huge drum beat, scuzzy guitar and a mind-bending middle section borrowed from your basic 1972 high school psychedelic band.

Waiting On Words is the pretty ballad, but even that gets some space and time shifting, like we're slightly out of phase with reality.  That's pretty much the overall sound here, uneasy and not quite real, but extremely catchy.  I've never felt so good about being so unsettled.

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