Review Summary: Same old Black Keys but with a bucketful of soul
By now I supposed you think you know what to expect from a new Black Keys record. Well you're wrong. Unless you heard their last one with Danger Mouse, then you probably had an idea. They're still working that minimalist rock thing they do so well but now it's adorned with all kinds of shiney twists and turns and falsetto voices. A new studio has resulted in a excellent shift and some rather interesting new ideas.
These songs are as a whole more experimental. This is a headphone records. These boys do not usually do texture. It's just two guys, a guitar and a drummer, blasting out loud, dirty garage rock ready and willing to stamp a riff into your brain. Recorded at Muscle Shoals the legendary southern studio it's a more intimate and differently shaped record.
There aren't any songs on here that instantly grab your ear and won't let go but there are a bunch of good songs that bear up to repeat listens. This is a full length record and the number of tracks allows the album as a whole to have more of a personality than Attack & Release did.
Dan Auerbach's voice has a nice range to it. He can sing high when it's necessary but he's never pulled out the falsetto so much in the past. It's a different style and it suits the haze they seam to have found themselves in. His voice is what drives Everlasting Light and sets the tone for the next hour.
Previous songs have focused on just one riff, and drilling that into your head. Songs like Black Mud and Too Afraid To Love You feel free enough to let the ideas flow and allow all the sounds to just stew. Some of the stomp is gone but none of the feeling with even more of that heavy soul.
I think my favourite song on this record is Sinister Kid. It's a groove based song with a gospel chorus which brings together an otherwise very minimal funk song. Just a tad more bare groove and a couple of blistering solos bring it all home. Pair that with the following track The Go Getter and you got yourself a decent movie plot wise.
If the term fractured blues has any meaning at all, and I'm not entirely convinced it does, it could very well be embodied in the fuzzed out distorted stomp of Howlin' For You. Some of their ideas are like that, hinting at something just slightly beyond the borders of what we are used to. But if anyone can tell me what it means to be “Gone like Moses through the corn” I will be most appreciated. Otherwise She's Lone Gone is a great song.
So they left the stomp at home. They picked up a bag of songwriting tricks though, and a whole bucket full of soul. When it comes right down to it this is a good Black Keys record but if it was anyone else I wouldn't give this music much thought. The spaciness can be overwhelming but as long as the songs are there I'm down for the journey. Hope it leads back to the garage.