Readers of PearShaped Magazine, I am here to confess to you. I am completely and utterly addicted to The Black Keys. This may seem out of place in a review of a different band, but stay with me. They are on all my playlists, always at the top of my recently listened and can possibly even convince me I should be a bit of a femme fatale (for about three minutes anyway).
So when I bought tickets to see them live earlier this year, my blues-loving heart was broken when they cancelled because their drummer Patrick Carney hurt his shoulder surfing. I could have written an actual blues song about the experience, it was so sad. Thankfully, Dan Auerbach, being the absolute music producing machine that he is, decided that instead of focusing on his self-titled side project, or even, God forbid, taking a break, he would just start up a new project, The Arcs. Because, why not, I suppose?
I, for one, am extremely happy that he did. To an unknowing listener, Yours, Dreamily, could be almost indistinguishable from a Black Keys album - it has the same bluesy style, the same voice is singing to us. But there is something a little bit special about this album.
There’s a playfulness which is not often present in the classic bleeding-heart melancholy which epitomises the style of The Black Keys. Don’t get me wrong; this emotional intensity is still present, especially in songs such as Everything You Do (You Do For You). But the Intro, with its slightly creepy but fun sample of circus-y music box music and voiceover of “Good Morning Children, welcome to school” just before the drop of Outta My Mind is pleasingly tongue in cheek and reveals a different side to Auerbach than we have seen in any of his other projects.
Nature Child goes even further, with beautiful deep jazz-style backing and a dreamy, lazy feel which encapsulates the sentiment of the lyrics perfectly. From then onwards, the album seems to let loose, revealing a few swaying, jazzy, surprisingly uplifting tracks which are really gorgeous, and filled to the brim with beautiful musicianship.
There’s a bit of a weird moment with Come & Go involving some pretty explicit and uncomfortable sex noises, which was a bit too try-hard for my liking, and my only problem with this album is I wish more of it had the lovely wistful feeling of Nature Child and Velvet Ditch.
Auerbach said that his aim with The Arcs was to just do his thing and get “extra weird”, and that he has done, creating a beautifully dreamy album that charts his break away from his previous projects, to bloom into its own charming self.