Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit


The Black Keys – Brothers
18 May 2010, 09:00 Written by Rich Hughes

Brothers is the eighth release by the Black Keys duo, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. That doesn’t include the multitude of side projects and solo albums that the duo have undertaken, last year’s Blackroc project being their most high profile – a collaboration between the band and several hip hop and R&B artists including Mos Def and RZA, to name a but a few. If you’re reading this you probably already have a good idea as to your opinion of this record… can I do anything to change or, indeed, confirm, that?

Well, let’s put it this way, The Black Keys have yet to make a bad album. Brothers continues, in terms of quality, where 2008′s Attack & Release left off. Where Magic Potion and Attack & Release played around with some studio trickery, Brothers feels like it’s stripped back again. It’s also dialled down the Blues as well. There’s more of a funk influence. Auerbach’s falsetto get’s a good work out on most of the tracks, including opener ‘Everlasting Light’, which starts things off on quite a sedate note. ‘Next Girl’ ramps it up though, crafting one of my favourite couplets of the year so far “My next girl will be nothing like my last girl / I made mistakes back then I’ll never do again”. This is probably the most “Black Keys” sounding track on the album – if by-the-numbers sounds like a negative call, it’s not. Especially when next up is the Adam Ant stomp-a-thon of ‘Howlin’ For You’ where Carney’s tub-thumping drums drives the song along as Auerbach’s skittish riffs playfully dances around it.

The band themselves have taken back production duties on this album, coating the album is a wonderfully deep and warm sound. ‘She’s Long Gone’ benefits the most from this as the rumbling bass and rhythms are strangely unfocused around Auerbach’s fuzzy vocals and guitar. ‘Black Mud’, an instrumental, features some of my favourite guitar work of the year so far – two riffs duck and weave their way around the short, thrifty, lifespan of the track. The stand out track for me though, is ‘Go Getter’. A film noir slice of Chandler or Roth / Updike distorted American Dream inspired darkness. It’s like the soundtrack to Blue Velvet. The protagonist of the song, the impeccable husband at home, hides a darkness. He can see his life “Going down the drain” whilst “Pretty girls help to soften the blow”. It’s fantastic stuff, all set to a glitch-filled rhythm section and staccato riff.

It’s tracks like ‘Go Getter’ that marks Brothers out as a continuation of the Black Keys development, rather than a treading of water. It might not be the assault on the senses of their early work, or the hip-hop fuelled twist of their Blackroc project or Magic Potion but, when the album reaches it’s finale, the beautiful ‘These Days’, with its grand swirls of romanticism and Walker Brothers style arrangement, the feeling of contentment and beauty fills you, and that is something to be thankful for.


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