BrothersAlbum | The Black Keys By Stewart Mason
Akron duo show us what they learned on vacation.
Starting with 2008's Danger Mouse-produced Attack and Release, The Black Keys took pains to expand beyond the "bluesy guitar and drum duo" thang. Solo projects from both Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney were followed immediately by their hip-hop-based supergroup Blackroc, all of them pointedly expanding beyond the Rubber Factory aesthetic. Brothers finds the duo applying what they've learned in the last couple years to the vintage Black Keys sound. So grinding Chicago-style electric blues is the basis of these 15 tracks, but this time elements of woozy acid rock ("Black Mud"), Prince-like funk experimentation (the falsetto-spiked "Everlasting Light") and even a few washes of shimmering space-rock keyboards (impassioned soul ballad "I'm Not the One") leaven the mix. An imaginative cover of the Jerry Butler soul classic "Never Give You Up" and the Howlin' Wolf-in-orbit tribute "Howling For You" showcase just how far Carney and Auerbach are willing to bend their influences, while first single "Tighten Up" tweaks R&B heads by not having a thing to do with the 1968 Archie Bell and the Drells classic. After an extended vacation from the expected Black Keys sound, they've chosen not to go back to what made their name, or at least not all the way.