Monday, November 23, 2009

2008 : 02 "Psychotic Girl" by the Black Keys

Musically, 2008 was a bit of a depressing year for me. Musicians that I thought could do no wrong (Conor Oberst and Hold Steady I am talking about you) put out mediocre albums that left me feeling blah. Nostalgia for the past moved in and I pined for days when the music was good.

Cue the Black Keys, who with their 5th album, Attack & Release are sounding as good as ever. They have taken a history of southern rock, blues, gospel, minimalist stomp, psychedelia, and a touch of hip-hop and combined it to perfection. Polish is not something I usually enjoy on my music, but producer Danger Mouse seems to have taken grit and turned it to gold.

There are many Black Keys fans who believe this Danger Mouse collaboration ruined the pure raw energy that made previous albums so refreshing, but I enjoy the variety here. Although the guitar and drums groove is still central to their songs, the addition of a choir, tribal drums, flutes, banjos, organ, and xylophone give each song a hidden gem hiding within the boom and gloom.

This is a nostalgic album in every sense from its sound to its lyrics, which means, unfortunately that the album could sound like it was made deep in the past. Luckily this is not the case, and the largest exception to this is "Psychotic Girl," which, after its banjo intro, proceeds into a very Gnarls-Barkley-sounding funk. I am a bit surprised by my love of this song. I have always been a vocals and lyrics kind of girl, and although Dan Auerbach does have a great pair of pipes, vocals are kind of subdued on this one. Hearing the synth and banjo coexist so perfectly more than makes up for it.

E. P. Johnson

Listen: The Black Keys >> "Psychotic Girl"

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