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The Black Keys haven’t lost a step

June 3, 2010

The Black Keys
Brothers
May 18, 2010
Nonesuch

Rating: 8.0/10

I’m not good at math, but it seems to me that no matter what you do there must be a finite number of note combinations¬† to be made. So the blues, arguably America’s oldest art form, which relies heavily upon that a note that only appears in 1/5th of every scale, certainly must be recycling old hooks by now.

I feel justified in my rationale about the blues, but when I heard Brothers, I felt a bit stupid for thinking that way. But, rather than consider myself stupid, I think that my feelings are more of a reflection upon The Black Keys brilliance.

Blues has been done by everyone and their brother; Robert Johnson, The Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc., and each of these artists has given the genre their own flavor.

The Black Keys have put their flavor on seven full-length albums now (along with Auerbach’s solo effort and their blues-rap collaboration, Blakroc), and Brothers is as inventive and creative as their most recent, Attack and Release, or Rubber Factory. This is somewhat of a triumph for the Keys’, as it was speculated that without Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse, lending a hand in the production (a la Attack and Release) that the album would fall flat like anything between their two most notable albums.

Though Burton did get his hands on “Tighten Up,” the rest of the album is all Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney. The band finds fresh new riffs and bold new hooks to trot out for this album; from “Everlasting Light” you get the sense that this album can be as special as anything the duo has released previously.

While the whole album is worth listening to, I found the second half of the album to be more immediately gratifying. My favorite track from the album would most certainly be the dirty southern rocker “Sinister Kid;” the bass bumps behind the snarling guitar throughout the track and his voice sounds a bit sinister as he sings about the kid who wants to meet his maker.

Followed up by “The Go Getter” and all the way through to “These Days,” the last half of the album is simply superb. However, getting there proves to be quite a task. At fifteen songs, Brothers can be a bit of a handful to get through, though it’s length would be my only complaint about the album.

In general, this is another solid album for the Keys, and it can be very rewarding for anyone who is willing to put in the time with this album.

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