Monday, 24 May 2010

The Black Keys: Brothers

Released 18 May 2010, 'Brothers' is the sixth studio album from the Ohio duo 'The Black Keys (discounting EP's, solo projects and collaborations) and in some respects it is a return to the band's roots. Anyone who is familiar with their recordings will know the gritty delta-blues fuelled noise the pair have been making for years now and for those with a taste for that sound this album doesn't disappoint. However, this album provides a little something more than that.

Since the last Black Keys studio album, a lot has happened to the boys, guitarist and lead singer: Dan Auerbach embarked on a solo project and released the album 'Keep it Hid' which saw him delving into bluegrass and CCR style rock (I may be imagining it but I also detect a little taste of Nick Drake in there too). While Auerbach was off touring his new creation. Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney (presumably suffering from itchy feet) decided to start a little something of his own. This came in the form of the somewhat more lighthearted band 'drummer', a super-group made up of, you guessed it, drummers; all of whom came from bands based in Carney's home state of Ohio.

The pair came back together for the 2009 collaboration project 'Blakroc' which saw an intriguing mixture of the Keys signature blues sound and some big names in Hip Hop and R'n'B (Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Q-Tip, ODB and Rza to name but a few). The collaboration was widely well-received by critics and fans of both genres.

Then came the time for another Black Keys album. It is immediately clear from hearing 'Brothers' that the duo have brought something back to the table after their experimentation with other styles and artists, Auerbach's vocal range has notably improved, the album's opening track 'Everlasting Light' is carried through by a sweet falsetto and throughout the record his singing style varies hugely.

(As an aside I had to mention the genius album artwork......does exactly what it says on the tin)

As with previous albums there is the recognisable mix of dirty blues tunes and the more ballad-like, all of them conveying a deep and thorough understanding of the blues. This album will keep those who have enjoyed the bands previous releases happy and could also serve as a way in for those wishing to hear more of the band. In my opinion the best way to fall in love with these guys, should the opportunity arise, is to see them in a small venue. You will be amazed at the size of the sound made by these two men and will immediately want more.

(X/10)Y  = Z 
Where 'Z' = a review score

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