On Attack and Release, Danger Mouse is more creative co- conspirator than traditional figure behind the boards. He doesn't radically alter the duo 's sound so much as coax out more of its inherent soulfulness, groove and bittersweet emotion. Two versions of 'Remember When' illustrate how the duo can swing easily from smoldering ballad to thrashing rocker. 'I' m more pleased with the sound of this record than any one we'v e ever made,' says Carney, and Auerbach concurs: 'We never let it all go l ike we did for this one, anything was game. It was just fun to make, and that's why I t hink it's so successful.'
Of all the two-piece rock bands (Dresden Dolls, The White Stripes, The Kills, John & Jehn) out there making a royal racket, The Black Keys are by far the least affected by the last three decades of popular music, and evolution. Even more so than Jack & Meg. Which makes you check the album credits twice and then seek a second opinion--produced by celebrated uber-producer, superstar DJ and one half of Gnarls Barkley, the ubiquitous and really quite modern Danger Mouse?! No, your eyes do not deceive you, but thankfully neither do your ears. He may have brought a discipline and expensive sheen to Attack & Release, the riffing is buffed up real good, but this is essentially the same band that continues to live less of a life and more a Jimi Hendrix Experience. If there is a change it's that for the first time their foot is teased off the accelerator, with "Lies", "Remember When (Side A)" and "Oceans & Streams" loosening their shoulders and playing a more chilled brand of dusty sunset southern blues, adding in keys and new layers of texture (is that really a flute on "Same Old Thing"?!). There's still plenty of chance, on the massive Zeppelin-esque "Strange Times" and "Remember When (Side B)" for instance, to leave a boot mark though. More release than attack this time around, but the key still fits. --James Berry