Magic Potion

This is the fifth in a series of eight posts breaking down each of the Black Keys albums leading up to the release of Turn Blue on May 13.

For The Black Keys fourth full album, Magic Potion, the boys returned to their basement recording roots. The basement, however was different as Patrick Carney was forced to move to a new place. This album doesn’t have the same basement feel as The Big Come Up and Thickfreakness. While still a good album, Magic Potion, begins a slight decline that will continue into their next effort Attack & Release. Of course, Brothers would change all of that.

magic potion
Another incredible piece of artwork by Michael Carney. Inside the album is a fried egg, and the back of the album is an falcon. I have no idea why.

The first song on the album is a strong effort, “Just Got to Be” is the second best song, behind the excellent “Your Touch”. There is just something about this album that is missing, and maybe I lack the technical acumen to describe exactly what that is. It feels distant, echoey, less hard hitting. The first two songs are The Black Keys at their best, “Your Touch” is as good as any song The Black Keys have made. It’s punchy, fun, and has a catchy riff that gets in your head and stays there.

But after “Your Touch” is the slower “You’re the One”. This is one of the The Black Keys weakest efforts to date. It’s not a terrible song, but it just doesn’t work. By the time Brothers came around, they had perfected these slower, simmering songs, but it seems that this first foray doesn’t work quite yet.

There are some other good songs on this album, “Just Got to Be” is a good song, along with “Goodbye Babylon” towards the end of the record.

In my opinion, Magic Potion is an important turning point in The Black Keys career. It was the first record they made that didn’t outsell it’s predecessor. Although a good album, it doesn’t seem to push them as artists. For perhaps the first and only time in their careers, The Black Keys had become kind of stale. This would lead them to try new things. It would push them into bringing in Danger Mouse as a producer for their next album Attack & Release, and it would eventually lead to their mainstream success with Brothers. Come back next week as I detail what worked and what didn’t on Attack & Release.

 

By far the best song on the album, “Your Touch”.

 

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