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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

6.8

The Black Keys
Attack and Release

This is blues music for non-blues fans. The pop sensibility that gets injected into each of the songs on this, the Black Keys' fifth record, by super-producer Danger Mouse makes this the ideal album for people like me who haven't gotten into the band in the past because of the limitations of their arsenal. What Danger Mouse brings to the table is the polish. He takes the explosive sound created by the rock guitar/drums duo and makes it sound all nice and shiny.

There are positive and negative elements to this modification of their delivery. With the extra tight, almost pop, sound the songs are a lot more instantly pleasant to the ears. Surely, this affects their fanbase and, for people like me who thought they were just a bit too 'bluesy', this means that this album ends up getting played a lot. Most likely because the songs are incredibly non-threatening and easy to listen to.

The downside with the poppier sound is that this album has a lot less of the connecting raw, emotional elements that has made previous Black Keys albums so enjoyable. There is still the dirty side, with tracks like I Got Mine and Remember When (Part B) combining the whaling guitars, pounding drums and muffled vocals that the band has always built their sound on. But this is heavily outweighed by a distracting battle between crisp, studio tightening and rehearsal space jam sessions. Tracks like Strange Times, Lies and Oceans & Streams are trapped in this middle ground, while All I Ever Wanted, Psychotic Girl and the infectious, Same Old Thing are a lot more notably influenced by Danger Mouse's touch. At different times during songs that fall into each of these three categories it comes together nicely, while on other occasions it all sounds a little bit forced.

Attack and Release is the album that The Black Keys had to make. The slight twist in their sound is overdue, but it doesn't seem like the natural progression. Instead it feels as though they, or more likely their record label, have sought out the current 'hot shit producer' and gone about making a record that will take them to the next level. It's a pleasant enough record, but the notable absence of substance and depth, weakens it substantially.

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The Black Keys

 

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Comments

troyox

I do dig these guys on a few levels, not a big blues fan tho, 'strange times' jumped out at me in one of those hear the song in passing, like it, then find out its the black keys. The power of the song should overtake whoever band it is.

1 decade ago

Jonny Yes Yes

yeh.. i think on first listens i thought it was a fantastic album.. but it grew old fairly quickly.. i think maybe it was just the initial shock of how it didn't sound like the black keys that floored me..

1 decade ago

gemdilem

ok this is the first bit of The Black Keys I've ever heard... so I can't say if its like their old stuff or not. I like it... the chilled melodic sounds. It's unlike the rest of music collection and that's probably why I feel attracted to it. I think Strange Times has been getting some airplay... because I definitely feel like I've heard it before...

1 decade ago

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