The Singles Party: The Black Keys, ‘Fever’

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“Singles party!”

Those were the only words our television Luke Kalamar sent with the link to the brand new track from The Black Keys to the Singles Party crew.

We acted accordingly.

Kelly O’Dowd: After listening to this song multiple times, there’s just something I couldn’t put my finger on. This song reminded me of something … something so similar….OH YEAH. Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out if that is a good thing or not. Having an homage to Ms. Lee is utterly fantastic, but shouldn’t it be a touch more dissimilar so one can claim it as their own? The lo-fi crackling instantly tells you it’s the Black Keys, and the song does not disappoint the listener’s expectations of such. However, I’m not 100% convinced of how playlist worthy this is. I listen to this new “Fever” and all I hear is the old “Fever.” The new one doesn’t stick in my head, just disappears into the aether after the music stops. Verdict: Abstain — Good, but not playlist worthy.

Lisa Pikaard: “Fever” is a tune that is simply mediocre. I wanted to say ‘Heck yes this song is on my rotation from now on!’ but it’s missing its big moment. I feel like a song should build and crash over an arc and then bring it home for a listener. Every song needs ups and downs and this track just doesn’t do that. Is it bad? Absolutely not. It’s just missing something. I think my favorite moment is how the song ends. The vibe is just a little different, a little more playful. “Fever” doesn’t give me fever or feverish drive to go download the song but I will leave it on if it comes on my radio. I hate to say it but… Verdict: One and Done.

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Nick Porcaro: I’ve never really listened to the Black Keys so I’m wondering: do they always sound this goofy?

That being said, this is a cool little tune. “Fever” isn’t anything mind-blowing, and it won’t win any awards, but it’s got some fun vocal melodies and rock-solid rhythms. The bass playing is particularly good—adventurous at times but steady when it needs to be.

I don’t have a lot to say about this track. It’s very much agreeable, there are some interesting shifts in dynamic, it has a winking, self-aware sense of humor and you can dance to it. Throw this song on at a party with the rest of your favorite trendy dance-rock anthems and get down with your bad self. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Lauren Stern: When Justin Timberlake came out with “Suit and Tie” last year, the majority listener response was along the lines of “This sucks” or “Not his best…whatever happened to Sexy Back?” I feel like that’s what is going to happen with the Black Keys. “Fever” is a great song but it was a poor choice for the band’s first single. I feel a lot of people are going to expect another “Lonely Boy” or “Tighten Up” and this is just not it. In sum: I think it will take some time to grow on everyone, just like it did for JT. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Luke Kalamar: The Black Keys is probably one of my favorite modern rock bands. I have all of their albums on my iPod and constantly groove out to their bluesy rock tunes. None of their albums have been a disappointment to me. That being said, I was instantly caught off guard by “Fever.” It’s nothing like what they have released in the past. Instead of giving gritty guitar riffs the main stage, electronic keyboards are very much front and center this time around. Clearly The Black Keys are aiming to bring their upcoming album Turn Blue on an entirely different path than their past two critically lauded albums.

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So how does “Fever” measure up as a single? Well it didn’t get me dancing like “Lonely Boy” did, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it wasn’t infectious. This song has an incredibly groovy bass line and the more I listen to it the more reasons I have to like it. Full disclosure, I was hesitant to give this song my full support at the offset. Yet there is nothing wrong with a band updating their sound with a new release. Do I want another El Camino? Not particularly. I want something new and different. The Black Keys have always been reliable so I have no doubt that Turn Blue will become a great release. While I wouldn’t consider “Fever” their best song by any means, it certainly succeeds in being a worthwhile addition and introducing us to a new style of Black Keys excellence. Verdict: Add to Playlist.

Jason Stives: Everyone knows what its like to have that initial gut reaction to a new song from a specific artist especially if said artist is someone you have actively listened to for awhile. My gut instinct upon first listening to the Black Keys’ new single “Fever” was confusion and frustration. Having abandoned the full and sleek rock sounds they had been exploring since 2008’s Attack and Release, which also took them from festival favorites to arena rockers, “Fever” seemed too glossed over to be special. However what has made the Black Keys so successful is their ability to go there and take a different take on their sound and “Fever” a few listens in intrigues me for what is to come on Turn Blue. Yes, it’s a big departure and yes it lacks a billowing, foot stomping rock feel but it also has a lot of the duo’s best tropes; an easy chorus, a wavering falsetto, and a defining back beat. I am rather hopeful for the outcome of this new record and while “Fever” doesn’t scream the love of groove worthy songs like “Howlin’ For You” or “Lonely Boy” it still grabs a hold of the rhythm in all of us…okay maybe just this reviewer. Add to Playlist

Photo Credit: Joe Zorzi/Pop-Break.com
Photo Credit: Joe Zorzi/Pop-Break.com

Al Mannarino: The Black Keys are one of those modern rock bands like the Arctic Monkeys, and The Strokes that can sell out huge venues worldwide yet still aren’t a household name. For fans of alternative music however, they are one of the most interesting and popular bands performing today. Their previous two albums, Brothers and El Camino were both chart topping and critically acclaimed. It wasn’t a big surprise that they were working on new material since they usually release a new album every two years, but the way they announced their upcoming album, Turn Blue was incredibly odd. They asked Mike Tyson (the most random celebrity on the planet) to tweet a creepy video of a hypnotist speaking nonsense with information about Turn Blue and its release date at the very end. The same day the released the first single entitled “Fever.”

“Fever” is very catchy like most of The Black Keys past hits. The only thing that sets it apart from singles such as “Tighten Up” and “Lonely Boy,” is it’s just not a powerful song. Dan Auerbach’s vocals are fantastic, but it’s the absence of a really strong guitar riff that makes this single a mediocre track from The Black Keys. Then gain a mediocre single from The Black Keys is still better then most modern rock music. I still recommend you listen to the song, but I don’t believe it should have been the first single off the album. Hopefully the rest of Turn Blue will be worth the wait. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Bill Bodkin: This is a tough one. This is nothing like the bluesy rock of the Black Keys tracks that litter my Spotify that I adore. But, I can’t dismiss it — it’s an unbelievably good pop song. It’s got such great hooks and you definitely can play this over again and again at a high clip and enjoy it. I also see this being such a big commercial crossover — literally soundtracking countless trailers and commercials. But, does this make my playlist? Does it hook me that much? Does it stick it with me? Do I care about it enough? That’s why I’m copping out — I cannot legitimately make up my mind. This song requires a few more listens over a longer time period to give a proper answer. Verdict: Abstain.

Final Verdict: While some of the panel might not be adding this one to their playlist, they aren’t denying that it’s still a good song. The majority definitely rules here as The Black Keys get our seal of approval. Add this one to the playlist.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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