The Black Keys
Fever Track Review
Released March 24, 2014
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Garage Rock
Remember when ‘Lonely Boy’ debuted? Off of the back of the smooth and sultry ballads of Brothers, fans were delighted to see The Black Keys grounded back in their roots of choppy blues riffs and foot-stomping grooves despite the overt pop direction they steered themselves. But it’s been a long time since the pop-rock hybrid El Camino came out and relative to most seasoned rock bands three years is a long time to leave us hanging. Although the Keys have been navigating the claymores cropping up here and there with the odd production credit or songwriting assist, ‘Fever’ is the first reveal of new material, and it probably wasn’t worth the wait.
Not to say it is a bad track, not at all; had this been released three years ago I probably would have said ‘Excellent! I was getting tired of Brothers anyway’; but things have changed, we’ve all changed. What hasn’t changed however is The Black Keys’ approach to ‘progressing’ their sound. Syncopated guitar stabs, Auerbach’s drifting vocals and stadium sized choruses that yank prosaic verses out of the swamp of mediocrity. I can see what they’ve attempted here by swirling some hypnotic synth leads giving a more kaleidoscopic vibe to the mixture but I can’t help but feel that’s the only form of development this track demonstrates – it might as well have appeared as an El Camino bonus track.
The further The Black Keys wander into this new-wave rock rabbit-hole the more distant I feel they’re getting from the two-piece intensity that made them such a captivating band in the first place. Gone are the days where we’d say “Two people?! How can two people make so much noise?”. That said, in light of all the imitating criticisms, Jack White can rest easy – The Black Keys are out of the dusty garage and into their glistening penthouse.