The crazy hype continues to grow as The Black Keys’ new and heavily anticipated album “Brothers” has finally been released. I along with many other fans was far too excited to get my hands and ears all over my copy of “Brothers.” Being a huge Keys fan since their early days and watching this infectious duo climb to rock stardom has been amazing to see and hear. Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney have definitely got it going on but in all honesty, I’m not too stoked on their new album “Brothers.” I’m not saying that it’s “bad” because it sure as hell ain’t, I’m just not feeling it entirely. It’s not constantly on repeat for months on end as their previous albums have done for me. Yikes! Blasphemy! I can’t believe those word would ever come out of my mouth. I think I hold the record for the most Black Keys plays on my LastFM page, but that’s surely not the case now.
Auerbach has some serious falsetto going on in the opening track of “Everlasting Light.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard his voice get that high, not quite sure how I feel about it. But it sure is catchy and will make the worse singer out of anyone trying to imitate Auerbach’s newfound pitch. His gritty, dirty blues voice is far more sexy and rugged (just like his beard). But I find myself speaking a bit too soon because “Next Girl” brings us back to those alluring blues-rockin’ vocals that we’ve grown to love. Yet, “Next Girl” comes off a bit more soulful than the songs from their past albums and easier on the dirty blues and fuzzy rock riffs. Although it’s a tight song, it makes me realize how much more I like The Black Keys when they play up their rock n’ roll such as in early albums “Thickfreakness” and “Rubber Factory.” Needless to say, I can’t deny how sick the beats and soulful melodies are through out “Brothers.”
The playfully enticing track “Howling For You” rolls with a foxy strut of bass thumps and soul claps, while the sleek guitaring takes you back to that dirty juke joint feel The Black keys are know for emulating. Of course “Tighten Up” is dripping with that Danger Mouse touch that everyone loves while “She’s Long Gone” is pure unstripped, Black Keys— the kind of blues-rock that’s way too cool for most.
“Brothers”comes off strong and full of flavor with the first seven songs but anything after “Too Afraid to Love You” with exception to their cover of the infamous Motown hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” made popular by Isaac Hayes but originally written by Jerry Butler, I tend to get an attention deficit with. As always, there’s beauty in Auerbach’s infamous lyrics about love and heartbreak, but it’s just not cutting it this time around. The blues have grown a little stale and mainstream.
Change can be a wonderful thing but The Black Keys seem to be bit out of touch with who they are. They’ve lost their raw rock ‘n roll sound and traded it in for some mainstream-loving-soul-action. With that said, I’m sure The Black Keys are going to attract a slew of new fans with “Brothers” and good for them. They do deserve to see all their talent and hardwork PAY off but they’ll probably have a shit load of true fans stray for a bit. Nonetheless, The Black Keys are still the shit in my book.
P.S. I’m totally interested to see how their new material will effect their live shows. I don’t expect them to bring the heat as a live act with “Brothers” or blow through numerous amps as they’ve done so in the past leaving me going home with the fuzzrocked ears and all.
Words: Sandy B.
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