“Brothers” by The Black Keys – Album Review

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.

Artist: The Black Keys
Album: “Brothers”
Label: Nonesuch
Release Date: May, 18, 2010

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The Black Keys “Tighten Up”

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10 thoughts on ““Brothers” by The Black Keys – Album Review

  1. Hans Fink

    As usual, Sandy B’s assessment is a fair and largely accurate one. However, I disagree with the statement that they’ve lost touch with who they are… A more fair statement would be that they lost touch with who their fans expect them to be. If Auerbach (or ANY artist) has something in him that he wants to lay down on a track, well, then that’s him. That’s who he is in that moment, no matter who approves or disapproves.

    I personally love this album just as much as I love their previous works but I appreciate the fact that they want to change gears a little. I mean, guys like David Bowie seem to change gears every other album no matter who likes it, so go for it.

    I kinda think the mentality that many so-called music purists have of “if they’re successful and suddenly on the radio, then they sold out” is a very dated and high school way of looking at music. So what if Black Keys are suddenly successful and the mainstream is eating it up? Good for them. They worked their asses off, let them collect from the very “mainstream” people that the so-called music purists claim to detest. I don’t see anything wrong with it – musicians are underpaid as it is. I am happy for their success.

    But enough rhetoric. Time to go gargle broken glass and bourbon so I can practice for the international Tom Waits sound-alike competition. 😛

  2. Junior

    This review is dead-on. The album isn’t bad but the opinions will be made from when the person started listening to the Keys. New fans that started with Attack & Release or with Brothers will love this album. But the true fans that have been there since The Big Come Up won’t like this album.

    The writer on this review sure is right about “attracting a slew of new fans.” The Black Keys are currently at #3 on Billboard. Mainstream musicians soon.

  3. Daniel

    I’m open to change and I do like the new album but I’m just concerned how this has now changed the whole composition of The Black Keys. Their live act is a four piece band now and Pat no longer stands out. It’s kind of all about Dan now. I like them as an unstoppable duo.

  4. Camilla

    Sandy B wrote this!?? WTF? I never thought you’d be disappointed with ANYTHING Black Keys or better yet, anything Dan Auerbach. I love the album! But then again I love KROQ. Just sayin

  5. Sasha

    Being a die hard Keys fan myself this album does confuse me a bit too. I agree with this review strongly but welcome the Keys trying new things and pushing borders. Dan is genius. I just hope they don’t get too played out and loose their edge with this new album though.

  6. Chad

    I sympathize with the purists, but this album won’t be leaving my ears for a while. I can’t deny the songwriting genius of Auerbach. Dan is a master of the groove and this album has swagger to spare. I was not too thrilled on the first listen, but after a couple times through, I hear tons of influences coming through (Cramps on “Howlin”, Beefheart on “I’m Not the One” and various hip-hop influences that I probably know nothing about). I also wonder how the harpsichord and various instrumental sections will be handled live, but I’ll leave that to be discovered. Regardless of debate, the Black Keys still rock and I’m stoked to have this new album bestowed upon us. Rock on, Brothers.

  7. drewtheyours

    True, true and true…I hope they find glory in their success, yet would love to see them stay true to the roots in which they have built and masterfully owned. Great, honest review.

  8. Tim Bucktoo

    All bands please the masses at one point or another. Kind of like the last Kings of Leon’s album. Good honest review here.

  9. Louis

    I couldn’t agree with this review anymore. I’m all for the rock n roll. Not the mainstream soul glow. These guys appeal to everyone now. MTV?

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