The Black Keys
Brothers


4.0
excellent

Review

by Travis Marmon USER (32 Reviews)
May 11th, 2010 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is the sixth album by the Black Keys. This band is still really good.

The Black Keys have been in a surprisingly experimental phase lately. The famously minimalist blues-rock duo recruited rising hip-hop producer Danger Mouse for their 2008 LP Attack & Release. In early 2009, frontman Dan Auerbach released a folky, sometimes psychedelic solo album called Keep it Hid. Later that year, the band collaborated with hip-hop stars like the RZA, Jim Jones and Mos Def to release an album under the name of Blakroc. Now the Ohioans are back with their sixth full-length, Brothers. The one thing these albums all have in common? They all are as solid and consistent as any band could ever hope to be (with the exception of Keep it Hid, which falls a little flat at times).

One would expect that, due to the band's choice of recording in the blues heartland of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the band would go back to the sound of The Big Come Up or Thickfreakness. But it appears that the Black Keys have found a happy medium between the riffy Delta blues of their first four albums and the groove and weirdness of their more recent work. Opening track "Everlasting Light" is an interesting choice to start. The track retains much of the Danger Mouse-styled production of Attack & Release and sees Auerbach singing way above his usual range for the entire song. But the following song, "Next Girl" brings you right into the Black Keys' pocket, where you will remain until the album's halfway point. While synth and other effects are used throughout, they don't dominate the early songs like on Attack. This is most apparent in the stretch of songs known as "Howlin' For You," "She's Long Gone" and "Black Mud." "Howlin'" rides a handclap beat for the whole song, but retains the Black Keys' classic blues atmosphere. "She's Long Gone" is a standout, featuring some of Auerbach's best riffing in years, with some cool guitar effects to boot. "Black Mud" is a short but powerful instrumental track devoid of experimentation in the background.

This trio segues into the 5-minute "The Only One," which features very prominent effects and another high-voiced performance from Auerbach. Compared to "Black Mud," the track is rather off-putting, and is the second-longest track here. Follower "Too Afraid to Love" adds an extremely rare element of the Black Keys' music: bass. The guitar on this track is actually obscured by the bass, keys, and repetitive shuffling beat of drummer Patrick Carney. As weird as the song is coming from this band, it is an excellent track in its own right.

Bass becomes a constant by the third quarter of the album. "Sinister Kid" is based around an incredibly groovy bassline and several pieces of percussion. The choruses feature female backing vocals and muted guitar--an instrument that is barely even noticeable in the song until a badass solo in the middle that leads to an increased amount of guitar heroics to close. Basslines continue to increase in prominence over the next couple of tracks, but guitar takes center stage again on the balladish "Unknown Brother," with its ascending-descending Phantom of the Opera riff.

Brothers marks an interesting point in the Black Keys' career. The album is a journey through all of the sounds that the band has had in their 9-year album-releasing lifespan. Yet at the same time, it has a distinct sound of its own--any Black Keys release in the next few years will undoubtedly have songs that will either be considered Brothersish or more like their old work. It's an important step in the evolution of a band that was getting by on the bare essentials. Don't get me wrong, everything from The Big Come Up through Chulahoma is excellent, but the band was in danger of releasing the same album over and over again. If Attack & Release and Brothers were mere experimental failures, then that would sound like a good plan. But the blues-loving boys from Akron have proven that they can adapt to an ever-growing palette of musical styles, and this album proves that they should keep it up while they're young.



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user ratings (1049)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Joseph Viney STAFF (3.5)
The Ohio duo up their game and set a good precedent for the future....

DrEpic4181 (5)
A true classic....

Scott Wannan (3.5)
Same old Black Keys but with a bucketful of soul...

Rudy K. STAFF (4)
A new chapter for one of rock's most consistent bands...


Comments:Add a Comment 
HenchmanOfSanta
May 11th 2010


1902 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126607501

Wrote this while listening through the stream for the first time. I know that that reviewing style is generally frowned upon, but I've found that my best work is often written that way.

AtavanHalen
May 11th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great album. A little too long, but there's so much to enjoy here - the production is absolutely fantastic and I really love the different sounds Dan gets through his guitar. That thing can sound like an organ, a bass, a synth...even a horn section during the "Never Gonna Give You Up" cover (and no, it's not THAT song, for those of you who were thinking you'd been Blackroll'd).

Best tracks: Everlasting Light, Tighten Up, Ten Cent Pistol, Unknown Brother and Howlin' For You.

JWT155
May 12th 2010


9319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Awesome album. You forgot Sinister Kid Atavan, that track rules.

ihopeuchoke
May 12th 2010


668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been so excited for this release! Sounds so good. Next Girl is such a great song.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2010


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't know. I can't really get into some of the songs. It's definitely overlong.

Digging: Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Rhythm

Bitchfork
May 12th 2010


7584 Comments


way too long.

JViney
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2010


322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thought you'd be interested in checking out this review of 'Brothers':

http://alternativemagazineonline.co.uk/2010/05/17/music-review-brothers-by-the-black-keys/

SteelErectedb4you8er
May 17th 2010


2618 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I heard one song off of this that had a very old school r&b vibe that sounded awesome. I can't wait to check it out.

Blindsided
May 18th 2010


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, I am going to pick this up tomorrow.

samr4563
May 19th 2010


43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

shit, this album flows like amazingly. totally worth it.

I'd say def a step up from Attack & Release in my opinion

HenchmanOfSanta
May 19th 2010


1902 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hopefully that obnoxious ad increases my viewership.

xxKillWithASmile
May 19th 2010


240 Comments


Every time I hear a song by these guys I always think "I should probably grab a CD or two and check them out more," but always forget.
I should get on that.
Also good review, bro.

HenchmanOfSanta
May 19th 2010


1902 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Get Rubber Factory, it brings da riffz
By blues/garage rock band standards anyway.

Bfhurricane
May 20th 2010


6197 Comments


They really need to fix the advertisements for this album on this site.

Bulldog
May 20th 2010


3796 Comments


The damned advertisement for this shit is pissing me off.

AtavanHalen
May 20th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You should leave in a huff

terminallyCHILL
May 20th 2010


17 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing album. It's long but doesn't get boring. Best tracks imo:

1. Everlasting Light
2. Next Girl
3. Tighten Up
7. The Only One
8. Too Afraid to Love You
9. Ten Cent Pistol
10. Sinister Kid



nabrazune
May 20th 2010


18 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the ads for this album are FUCKING annoying

Awesomesauce
May 21st 2010


1084 Comments


I won't be buying this album because of that fucking advert. Which is a shame, coz I like these guys.

AtavanHalen
May 21st 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You people are at all new levels of retarded.



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