By John F. Guido
Hey guys, my name is John. This is Liner Notes. You know the deal.
Full disclosure: I’m a huge Black Keys fan. In my humble opinion, Dan Auerbach is the man, and I enjoy nearly everything he produces. So, when I heard about his new side-project The Arcs, I couldn’t really help but look forward to their debut album “Yours, Dreamily.”
First things first, yes, the album sounds a bit like something the Black Keys would produce. I think that Dan Auerbach’s tone—and Patrick Carney’s—is synonymous with that band, and their particular brand of blues rock. It permeates nearly everything Auerbach and Carney make, even when they try to move away from it. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing—they sound pretty damn good, after all—anyone looking to find something from either member that sounds markedly different, and new, would be hard pressed to do so.
To be fair, I think it’s fair to say that Auerbach’s intention with this album wasn’t to create an entirely new voice for himself or The Arcs. They exist in the comfortable middle ground of being just different enough to not be mistaken for a Black Keys knockoff, and not making a noticeable effort to bury Auerbach and his style in order to seem as if they’re desperately trying to escape from the shadow of The Black Keys. I feel that, going into this album, The Arcs knew that they’d be compared to the powerhouse duo Auerbach is most famous for, and that frankly they were okay with that. It’s a welcome thing to see, because it allowed the The Arcs to create something that feels authentic and enjoyable, rather than an album rife with gimmicks, tricks, and a palpable sense of “holy crap, we need to sound different.” and panic.
So, how best to describe Yours, Dreamily,? Perhaps the easiest way, is to say that the album is comparable to a lighter Turn Blue. What I mean by that, is not that the Arc’s debut album is a watered down version of The Black Keys’ latest studio album. Instead, I mean that it’s both emotionally and tonally lighter. The guitars—still laden with fuzz—sound brighter; the drums are softer, more mellow, and yet still dynamic; the keyboard used on various tracks is noticeably less melancholy, and accent the rest of the instruments nicely; the bass has a jovial groove, replacing a sometimes dirge-like droning from “Turn Blue.” Moreover, Auerbach’s gravelly crooning isn’t pained, pleasantly lacking the wounded heartache he carried in “Turn Blue.” Overall, “Yours, Dreamily”, lacks the heaviness and sorrow that weighed “Turn Blue” down, while still retaining the former’s sense of heart and soulfulness. What’s more, The Arcs play with psychedelic elements nicely, balancing them with a more bluesy tone that adds a nice flavor to the LP without feeling overused and schtick-like. In short, The Arcs have effectively carved out a space, and a sound of their own.
- The audio clips that serve as pseudo-skits throughout the album.
- The lighter tone of the album, that blends psychedelia and blues nicely.
- The background vocals that add a softer layer to the tracks, and brighten Auerbach’s leads.
- If you’re looking for something entirely new from Auerbach, something entirely devoid of any hint of the Black Keys, you’ll be slightly disappointed.
Stand Out Tracks:
“Pistol Made of Bones”
“Put a Flower in Your Pocket”
“Chains of Love”
If you liked that, you’ll like:
“Currents” by Tame Impala
“Allah-Las” by Allah-Las
“A Flourish and a Spoil” by The Districts
John F. Guido is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email hima at firstname.lastname@example.org