Waiting On A Song (Nonesuch/Warner)
Why would Dan Auerbach make a record like this? No, serious question: what possible explanation could there for a song as kidney-smashing, pancreas-exploding and will-to-live-sapping as Shine On Me?
Cute as a button, sugared up the wazoo and possibly angling for space on the soundtrack to Trolls II, the best thing that can be said about Shine On Me is that it kills with kindness. Just not fast enough.
Like a cross between Jeff Lynne and a kilo bag of aspartame, it ingratiates itself and then just grates. It cosies up and then throws up.
And if you like this you really need to consider your life choices, and whether you have a nap or look at the new picture book after big lunch today.
While Shine On Me is the worst thing here, it isn’t alone in traducing what’s left of Auerbach’s reputation after the pallid last Black Keys album and the highly disappointing side-project The Arcs.
Show Me aims for sweet ‘70s pop, in the way of Josh Rouse in his happy period, but lacks heart. Living In Sin is a ‘50s throwback which would have been rejected by the Traveling Wilburys (though possibly picked up by Meghan Trainor).
Cherrybomb (no, sorry, not the Runaways song) has its eyes on the laidback groove of Beck without the sardonic distance that gives Beck some frisson.
Never In My Wildest Dreams wants to be homespun, like a Sunday afternoon family get together with cousin Darren on his new trumpet and Sarah’s boyfriend shuffling away on the drums, but it is so light it blows away with your second breath.
There are two songs which might qualify as a saving grace on this album. The title track, which is like the Monkees doing a country song. is genuinely charming in its lightweight garb. And the Al Green-aspiring Malibu Man, with a gently buoyant soul rhythm and perky backing vocals, makes a virtue of simplicity.
However, even though there are only ten tracks done and dusted in just under 33 minutes, that’s not a lot is it?
This is too easy a line but that doesn’t make it any less true. Next time maybe Auerbach should wait a bit longer. Wait long enough a better song will arrive.
And if it doesn’t, maybe consider that nap after big lunch.