If you were to describe The Black Keys sound to someone, you might suggest they are essentially a riff-driven blues rock band. There’s a popular perception of the band as a dynamic duo of visceral electric guitar and pounding back beat.
Whilst that might have been true of their early recordings, people forget The Black Keys sound is much more than this. Blakroc has certainly muddied the waters further.
Some of the band’s more memorable tunes are arguably down tempo, slow-burning heartfelt songs.
The Big Come Up had no discernible slow songs on it. Attack and Release had four tracks. The energy of youth has given way to some subtlety of age.
It will be interesting to see on the next album ‘Brothers’ whether the trend continues.
The slower songs really highlight the range and texture of Dan’s voice. The guitar work is necessarily more emotive.Â The beat lopes along along rather than drives the song. Dan and PatÂ are seemingly guided by those they have been inspired by and leave theirÂ attitude on these songs.
Arguably, improved production techniques, outside ideas and instrumental experimentation have allowed the slower songs to breathe on albums. Hopefully, in time some of these songs will be able to represented and developed more fully in a live context on the next tour.
Just think about what a contrast some of these tunes (for example, You’re The One) are to some of the better known four to the floor tunes like I Got Mine or Thickfreakness.
What’s interesting about the style of these songs is that although the tempo may be slower they don’t necessarily have to be quieter. Some of the songs if anything are ‘heavier’, the Chulahoma tracks are certainly indicative of this.
It’s often been said but The Black Keys can indeed take their music anywhere they wish to be led by it – something not all bands could easily stake a claim to. These slower tempo songs are proof of that.
A Playlist of The Black Keys’ slower songs:
(Attack and Release)
All You Ever Wanted
Remember When (Side A)
Things Aint Like They Used To Be
You’re The One
Keep Your Hands Off Her
Meet Me In The City
My Mind Is Ramblin’
When The Lights Go Out
Everywhere I Go
I Cry Alone
(The Big Come Up)