The Arcs

Yours, Dreamily,

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Cut swiftly -- no more than two weeks at three different studios spread coast to coast -- the Arcs' 2015 debut Yours, Dreamily does bear a spontaneous air, a record that enjoys its hazy detours as much as its sturdy foundations. This blend of airy sonic swirls and R&B-influenced rock formalism feels familiar, perhaps because it is the aesthetic that's driven Arcs leader Dan Auerbach during the heady mid-career heyday of his main gig, the Black Keys. Once the Ohio garage blues duo hooked up with producer Danger Mouse for 2008's Attack & Release, the Black Keys incorporated impressionistic soundscapes to their guitar growl but Yours, Dreamily flips the equation, favoring feel over grind. Certainly, much of this shift is due to the Arcs being a very different band than the Black Keys. Recorded with drummer Patrick Carney recovering from a shoulder injury in early 2015, Auerbach surrounds himself with like-minded travelers -- bassist Richard Swift is a member of the Keys' touring lineup, while other members have a history with the retro-soul specialists at Daptone -- and, appropriately, there's a powerful soulful undercurrent pulsating throughout Yours, Dreamily, an emphasis on supple grooves that contrasts neatly with the brute force of the Black Keys. More than anything, this full-blooded foray into classic soul -- based on this album, the Arcs' love of R&B extends from Memphis in 1966 to Philadelphia in 1973 and nothing later -- telegraphs how this is the work of a band, not a singer/songwriter. Sure, Yours, Dreamily is littered with production tricks -- slight, trippy phasing on rhythm and vocals, guitars filtered to resemble either transistor radios or saturated fuzz -- but everything comes back to the group's elastic, blissed-out groove, a feel that can suggest either love or heartache depending upon the angle from which it's viewed. While the songs are good -- there's canny craftsmanship behind the Stylistics salute "Stay in My Corner" and the steady crawling "Put a Flower in Your Pocket" -- it's this immersive, trippy atmosphere that distinguishes the Arcs and makes Yours, Dreamily live up to its name.

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