The Black Keys - Brothers - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Black Keys - Brothers

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2010-05-17

After the hip hop/blues rock love-in of last year's Blakroc album, Ohio's The Black Keys return to what they know best. Brothers, their sixth album, is full of dusty, unapologetically primal blues boogie. 'Everlasting Light' is a fantastic opener, Dan Auerbach's gospel-tinged falsetto bringing a playful sexual energy worthy of Marc Bolan to proceedings.

Later track 'The Only One', with its 60s pop organ and shuffling rhythm, works along the same lines. These two songs, sounding like The Dead Weather but sunnier or Kings of Leon with an ounce of soul, are the highlights on an album with otherwise delivers little surprises. The problem with The Black Keys isn't so much that they deal in musical clichés - after all, no one's going to be looking to a blues rock band to reinvent the wheel (although with the Blakroc album, they proved they've got a maverick streak in them). The real issue is that they deal ceaselessly in lyrical clichés which they deliver with leaden predictability. On 'Tighten Up', Auerbach is complaining about his "baby child" who's "running wild". Meanwhile, on 'Too Afraid to Love', a harpsichord-led ballad which is one of the album's musical highlights, he moans "I'm too afraid to love you" in such an uninspired way it robs an otherwise startlingly beautiful song of its majesty.

Other tracks, like 'Ten Cent Pistol' and 'Black Mud' strut their funky blues stuff expertly. If you close your eyes and picture them playing in an as yet unmade Tarantino film, these tracks are perfect. Otherwise, you'd have to be a real hardcore blues rock fan to find them anything more than pleasantly diverting. That said, there's enough here, like the squelchy almost-space rock of 'The Go Getter' or languorous closer 'These Days', to remind you that when they want to, The Black Keys can pull off some heart-stopping moments. They just need to make a habit of doing it more often.

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