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Song You Need To Know: The Black Keys, ‘Lo/Hi’

The Nashville duo’s electrifying new track marks a return to their psychedelic sound

It’s been five years since the Black Keys have released any music together, but with their new song “Lo/Hi,” the duo seem to have picked up right where they left off. Dan Auerbach’s signature bluesy, fuzzy guitar and Patrick Carney’s thumping garage rock drum beat are alive and well. And yes, before you ask — there are female background singers.

After achieving mainstream success in 2010 with Brothers and its hit single “Tighten Up,” the Keys funneled their raw, soulful energy and streamlined it with El Camino a year later. Their next move was surprising: 2014’s Turn Blue was a decisive turn to psychedelic rock, but the duo went on hiatus shortly after. Now it seems the Keys are eager to keep rolling onward. Recorded at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville, “Lo/Hi” continues their ongoing exploration of trippy Sixties territory.

The song kicks off with Carney’s delicate cymbal taps. As Auerbach’s vocals slide along the rumbling, muffled rhythm, he bluntly lays it down: “Nobody to love you/Nobody to care.” The tone is reminiscent of the El Camino track “Sister,” in which a lover is abandoned: “Wake up/you’re gonna wake up to nothing.” When the sizzling guitar riff shifts to a solo—increasing the voltage from 0 to 1,000—the Keys have officially returned, louder than ever.

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