Black Keys – Brothers
This will be a short review because I don’t listen to very much blues or old-school rock & roll, and that is how the Black Keys kick it. That said I still think this is a damn fine album and it has me listening to a genre that I don’t dislike but which I don’t generally find interesting enough to draw me away from other stuff. That sounds a bit like damning with faint praise but it’s the opposite… this is a cool record with broad appeal.
It’s the duo’s highest-charting album; in its first week of release in mid-May it sold about 73,000 copies. They’re evidently not a band who need smalltime bloggers reviewing them, but fuck it – I reviewed Deftones the other day, didn’t I? And, obviously, I’m reviewing music out of a desire to share cool stuff that I like. Get on it!
I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to the White Stripes mentioned in relation to this album. I’m not clued up on what the Stripes are doing these days, but this record doesn’t sound like the fuzzy garage rock of early Stripes or the poppier rock tunes they were doing about five years ago. This is a much more measured, soulful, beard-strokin’ and hip-shakin’ affair.
It’s impressive how full a sound the Keys manage to pull together from just two guys playing; it’s a credit to the solidity of their songwriting. Fuzzy riffs, catchy licks and simple hooks constitute the guitar parts, whilst the drums vary between low-key subtlety and pounding rhythms. Lyrically the songs are pretty clichéd but I don’t tend to pay that much attention to them… the vocals are just another instrument and I don’t care overly much what’s being sung.
A few highlights are ‘Unknown Brother’, with some cool riffs that slide up and down the neck and neat vocal lines in the chorus, ‘Tighten Up’ which is the only song on the album produced by DJ Dangermouse, and ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, a Jerry Butler/Isaac Hayes motown cover. Anyway, check this album out – it’s great to stick on when hanging with friends.