We’ll happily tolerate a rock star’s pet projects: the kooky, “difficult” material they have to get out of their system in order to make the tuneful stuff we actually prefer. So, when The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach announced that with his side band, The Arcs, he wanted “to do my thing and get extra weird”, we were steeled for the worst.
As it happens, Yours, Dreamily, the debut from The Arcs – long-time pals and collaborators Auerbach and Richard Swift plus Leon Michels, Homer Steinweiss, Nick Movshon, Kenny Vaughan and all-female mariachi band Mariachi Flor de Toloache – is so rambunctious and confident it’s hard to imagine it hasn’t been Auerbach’s main concern all along.
It bursts with metallic blues guitar, butch-yet-blousy choruses, thumping drums, judicious brass and a spirit of louche, late-Sixties motorcycle hippy-Mexicana, aided by the skull’n’flowers sleeve art and the mariachi ladies (Auerbach admits to a strong Grateful Dead influence).
The weirdest it gets is a dissonant honky tonk number 'Come & Go', which features a woman making porny sex noises, and if a track such as “Pistol Made of Bones” made it on to the opening credits for the next Southern-set HBO drama don’t be surprised – and that’s a compliment. There’s even room for the occasional joke reference on 'Everything You Do (You Do For You)'.
Auerbach’s talent and melodic sensibilities can’t be suppressed, no matter how hard he tries.
Yours, Dreamily by The Arcs is out on 4 September (Nonesuch)