Sound & Color
Eight albums in, The Black Keys find their sensuous - and catchy - side.
Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are back in harness with their old mucker, producer Danger Mouse, for an album that smooths down the rough edges of 2011's hugely successful and award-winning El Camino and finds a new facet to their tough-boy blues. They don't so much Turn Blue as creep softly away from their stock-in trade.
Soul's the thing here. In Time is sinuous, sexy even, as Auerbach floats his falsetto over a belt-buckle groove, snaking his guitar around cascading synth. It's joined by the organ jabs of Year In Review, which combines girl-group ahhhs on its chorus with what sound like harp trills. This would all feel quite tender if it wasn't for the lascivious undercurrent.
Of course, it wouldn't be the Keys without the odd rockout and It's Up To You Now comes with a dirty tribal buzz, but most of the unfettered moments have a real pop sparkle to them. Fever's nagging synth lodges in the brain, In Our Prime has a Beatley psychedelia about it and closing track Gotta Get Away is a fantastic bit of power pop that could've come from Slade or Rod Stewart's Faces at their most boisterous.
That it's tucked away at the end, almost an afterthought, speaks volumes for The Black Keys' confidence. They're a band at the height of their powers.