Monday, May 3, 2010

Brothers, The Black Keys

The Black Keys may best represent aging more than any other musical act currently working. The energy and creativity of their first albums, thickfreakness and The Big Come Up, is certainly a thing of the past. The climax of their career is found in the almost perfect Rubber Factory album. Every song a blues heavy dirty rock anthem. They mellowed out a bit with the underrated Magic Potion (my 2nd favorite album by the band) and their covers album Chulahoma (an album I hoped would have been a sign of what was to come, but ended up being a brief side track for the band). Finally, we saw the band have a mid-life crisis with the release of a blues/rap album under the moniker Blacroc (and, despite a few great songs, the album is unnecessary). And, lastly, Attack and Release (an album only a faux-fan can really love). Attack and Release is the album your mother wouldn't mind listening to. Adult contemporary blues rock in a John Mayer vein. Sad.

Luckily, Brothers shows not everyone is dead in their old age. There may be some bumps along the road, but the past is still alive in the sound of this new album. The album is more along the lines of the Magic Potion. A mellowed out blues rock jam fest. The lyrics are cleaner and their vocals are a bit dirtier. There is a "swamp blues" feel to a lot of the songs. Even a lot of soul taking place throughout the album. Clearly the band is tweaking a new and improved sound. I give them credit for their work.

The albums strongest tracks are "Too Afraid To Love You" (a slow blues ballad), "Ten Cent Pistol" (reminescent of great classic rock), and "Sinister Kid" (the much livelier sibling of Attack and Releases horrid "Psychotic Girl"). "Howlin For You" is the albums worst song. The music sounds as if it samples Queen's "We Will Rock You." A mix of late 70's static fuzz and below average lyrics. The album closer "These Days" sounds like a track left off of Dan Auerbach's ballad filled folk blues Keep It Hid, but still very beautiful and a lovely final addition.

The band has aged. The music has mellowed. Anyone looking for the enthusiam of their earlier releases needs to stay far away from this album. But, anyone open to hearing a band dedicated to a solid record may still be interested in the efforts.


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