Magic Potion explodes out of the speakers with its loud and rocking opening track “Just Got to Be”. Hard Rock is the name of the game on this release from the Black Keys that is not only a completely worthy addition to your Black Keys catalog, but another step forward for the band.
With an EP of Junior Kimbrough blues covers lodged between then, Magic Potion does sound like a natural progression from 2004’s excellent Rubber Factory. All of the catchiness of Rubber Factory cuts like “10am Automatic” and “Girl Is On My Mind” can be found on the addictive “Your Touch” and “Modern Times”. What these tracks show more importantly than the ability to initiate foot-tapping and hip-shaking is what may very well be the establishment of what has become the essence of The Black Keys sound.
It must be noted how legitimate of a musician Dan Auerbach has established himself as since forming The Black Keys. Over the course of the album he shows that he is able to tune his voice as easily as he is able to tune his guitar. And he has a widening scale to work with; from the tenderness of “You’re The One” to the harshness of “Just a Little Heat”, Auerbach shows that he is no one trick blues pony.
Overall, this feels like the fullest sounding Black Keys album to this point. They are a band that has drawn from numerous blues and rock n’ roll sources to produce a sharp, yet heavy sound. They have the soul of 1930-50’s blues, with the hard-rock wit of the 1970’s and the hipster appeal of early 2000’s breakout alt-rock bands such as The White Stripes or The Strokes.
The Black Keys continue to grow up. Their approach is not so much formulaic as it is concise. It is if Auerbach and Carney have stumbled across an overflowing treasure chest of blues riffs and songs that have always existed. Either that or someone with the musical inclination of Howlin’ Wolf or R.L. Burnside has crawled inside of and is living inside one of them. But this being their first album entirely of original material that they have released, it really shows that they just happen to have a bad case of the blues. Which sounds perfectly healthy to me.
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