The Black Keys : Attack & Release

<img src="" alt=" " />On their fifth album, the duo's swamp-rock style gets a little sophistication and comes out clean. ...
The Black Keys - Attack & Release
7.9 Nonesuch

The Black Keys : Attack & ReleaseOn their fifth album, the duo’s swamp-rock style gets a little sophistication and comes out clean. On Attack & Release, pianos, banjos, and other slick treatments get into the mix and send The Black Keys on a more ambitious trajectory.  It’s more entertaining and stimulating than previous efforts on some levels, and doesn’t abandon the band’s signature grungy blues sound.

With a big distance between the high & low points on Attack & Release, the duo pushes their envelope in both directions.  Softer songs like the opener “All I Ever Wanted” and “Remember When (Side A)” give the album a velvety cushion while heavier tracks like “I Got Mine” have a mature sense of rocking-out — more than just for the sake of rocking out.  Melodies actually drive Attack & Release more than the band’s typical fury, and it’s impressive to absorb as a whole.

Singer Dan Auerbach’s trademark drawl hits its usual mark throughout Attack & Release, but he also gets a little out of his element – in a positive way.  “Psychotic Girl” is a haunting, dark track with his twang fitting into the cool, creepy atmosphere.  “So He Won’t Break” features Auerbach at his most melodic, but any way he cuts a vocal track, it’s going to be attention-grabbing.

With so much higher design on the album, Attack & Release is a baby step towards an opus.  It’s well-developed, inventive without sacrifice, and always showcases the band’s strengths.

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