The Trouble With Fever

Michelle Branch

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The Trouble With Fever Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Working once again with Patrick Carney -- the Black Keys drummer is credited as a co-writer and co-producer here, as he was on her previous album -- Michelle Branch picks up where Hopeless Romantic left off in 2017. Where that record had a slight modern patina thanks to dabbling in lite electronica, The Trouble with Fever feels retro: it's heavy on harmonies and studded with fuzz guitars, all accentuating sharply crafted melodies. Despite some throwback trappings, the album isn't an exercise in nostalgia. Branch is rooted in classicist pop/rock, a form that shifts with fashion, and though this record doesn't chase trends, it undoubtedly inhabits the world of 2022. Its production is gleaming and warm; its themes are mature and pointed. With its heavy stomp and bluesy guitar riff, "I'm a Man" sounds like the Black Keys, but it's a nervy, angry satire for the age of #MeToo, a sentiment that's countered by the self-empowerment of "When That Somebody Is You." While most of The Trouble with Fever concerns itself with personal issues, it isn't insular; the sound is alluring and open, an invitation for relaxation as much as it is for reflection.

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