Album Review

Brothers

Brothers

by The Black Keys


Nonesuch
7 / 10
7/06/2010

Reviewed by Gareth Meade


The Black Keys have never made an overwhelming blip on my musical radar. They never quite had enough impact to justify further investigation, and although it is a very lazy and unfair comparison, The White Stripes provided as much garage-blues as anyone could want. But it only took the release of ‘Next Girl’ for that to all change. It’s simple structure and relatable subject matter really resonated, and it certainly didn’t hurt that the song had a guttural stomp to match.

Now, having listened to The Black Keys’ new album Brothers several times, it’s not exactly right to say that it entirely lives up to the promise of ‘Next Girl’. There was almost a 50/50 chance that if I’d heard a different song, I wouldn’t have been as drawn to the album. There is so much of the same thing on Brothers, with only slight variations here and there, that its 15 tracks and lengthy running time become daunting rather than inviting.

However the rocky road that the listener is in for certainly doesn’t become clear on the opening trio of songs. ‘Everlasting Light’ can’t help but induce head-bobbing, as Dan Auerbach’s vocal scales the height of its range and his guitar chugs along perfectly in time to Patrick Carney’s simple beat. It then gives way to the fuzzy blues of ‘Next Girl’ and the charming soul of ‘Tighten Up’, which is an irresistible album highlight. But it’s the uniqueness of those three songs that set the album up so well, only to have the good work undone straightaway by ‘Howlin’ For You’, which sounds direction and hook less.

And it’s from here that the ideas seem to fracture. Nothing is dismissible, or even awful, but a formula starts to evolve that robs a lot of the songs of their essentialness. If you persevere though, you will arrive at the funky ‘Sinister Kid’, whose attitude is encouraged by searing backing vocals, and the wonderfully faithful cover of Jerry Butler’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. Final track ‘These Days’ is also a standout and allows the album to finish strongly, with Auerbach channeling his inner Jeff Buckley. It’s a beautiful song that never feels rushed or overdone.

Basically, there are songs on Brothers that deserve to be played over and over again and will perhaps one day become classics. They’re even enough to distract from the lesser material on the album. But it may take a truly committed fan to sit and listen to it in its entirety on more than a few occasions.





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I'm not going to disagree with you there, they lost me on Magic Potion. But everything else they've touched is gold. Meh, I'm a fanboy.
Posted by 2523 6 years ago



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