Review: The Arcs — Yours, Dreamily


arcs-yoursdreamilyThere’s a compelling upside to two-member Rock bands like the White Stripes and the Black Keys. They can’t hide behind layers of sound and instrumentation. They’re all out there. The spare, two-person presentation somehow commands a more intimate listener involvement that larger bands can’t duplicate. There’s a heightened awareness of the song, the voices and the instruments. Also, the two-member band creates far fewer problems at the backstage buffet.

The downside to the two-person band is the limited range of sounds it can create. The Black Keys knew this and started adding bass and some other bold colors to their sound. But with this album, Dan Auerbach’s new partners take him to many new places, places the Black Keys can’t go, and some of these places are very groovy. Which is great since there would be no point in getting new musical partners only to cover the same old musical ground.

This means I preferred the songs that were furthest away from the BK sound. “Put A Flower In Your Pocket” is kind of like an R&B slowjam overtop a scoop of My Morning Jacket. “Everything You Do”’ deals a little rock steady beat, and “Stay In My Corner” dishes out some pure 70s Philly soul greatness. “Nature Child” even has an electronica vibe to it.

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Being in the Arcs allows Auerbach to reveal a softer side, which bluesmen are not particularly prone to do. He seems a little world weary at this point, but there’s a nicely-produced blend of acoustic and electronic treatments, plus a few more major key notes, to help smoothen his rough BK edge. It’s smooth, all right, sometimes it’s almost Barry White sexy-smooth.

In fact, the track “Come & Go” begins with the sounds of a woman in the throes of ecstasy, but the lyric suggests all that bizarre heavy breathing is supposed to be ironic. Or does it?

Took a fast train to Eden
Where Johnny took quite the beating
Picking up the pieces of a broken shell
The shell

Stumblin’ down dead end streets
With every soul sucker he meets
Living like a king by the gates of hell
Of hell

The more he comes, the more he goes
The less he learns, the more he knows
He had your heart, but it never shows
The more he comes, the more he goes

Anyway I really liked this album. There were a couple of tracks that sounded a little bit too much like tarted up Black Keys, but I suppose it’s asking a guy too much not to sound anything like his last nine albums.

Release Date: September 4, 2015

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