The Black Keys’ new album Brothers, to be released May 18 2010, is a fantastic collection of songs and tales that will take you on a dark, soulful (and sometimes sinful), reverb-soaked journey – complete with psychedelic scenery.
There are tales of triumph and treason, of revelry and revenge, of Â desire, and of death. This time around The Black Keys bring less of their signature 6-string sound, and more keys and bass guitar. There is plenty of percussion present (maracas, sleigh bells!?), and heavy doses of fuzz, wah-wah, and tremolo/vibrato. There are even some guest vocals onÂ four tracks by Nikki Wray (Blakroc).
This is “psych-soul” in its absolute purest form.
“Everlasting Light” (with its T-Rex vibe) is the perfect opener highlighted by Dan throwin’ down some great falsetto vocals, remarkably in just ONE TAKE! “She’s Long Gone” has a droning & intoxicating riff and a matching tribal beat that’ll have you in a trance before you can say â€œRadio Moscowâ€. And the instrumental masterpiece “Black Mud” sounds something like a late-night back-alley bare-knuckle boxing match between CCR and Black Sabbath! (Ozzy, not Dio)
Dan brings back those falsetto vocals as the band takes a slight step towards disco on “The Only One“, before the journey finds us riding horseback towards a Sonoran desert sunset with an ass-pocket full of whiskey on “Too Afraid To Love You” (which sounds an awful lot like a long lost B-side to Dan’s “When I Left The Room”). It’s a haunting, glorious, modern-day cowboy song, with a serious southwestern feel to it.
“10 Cent Pistol” has a classic (albeit darker) 1960’s Detroit/Motown vibe – it sounds like it could easily be the more soulful/sinister/psychedelic sister of “Stack Shot Billy”. AndÂ “Sinister Kid” is a slinky, steamy, southern sex-machine that will have you bobbing your head in seconds flat. It’s THE song I wanna hear on my next visit to the strip club – with only the finest “T&A” shakin’ just for daddy! The raunchy, gritty slide-guitar solo ALONE is worth the price of admission.
“I’m Not The One” is an epic, tension-building, reggae-ish anthem of an unlikely hero. Speaking of unlikely heroes, â€œUnknown Brotherâ€ is a beautiful song that could easily be mistaken for the best of John Lennonâ€™s solo stuff (and that is a HUGE compliment). Towards the end, The Black Keys do full-powered justice to Jerry Butlerâ€™s â€œNever Give You Upâ€ – especially Dan, whose vocals are â€œoh so prettyâ€ and chock-full of emotion.
Brothers finishes strong, and leaves us feeling a bit nostalgic with the powerful ballad “These Days“. The metal glockenspiel sprinkled throughout suits this tune perfectly, and the lyrics/vocals will have you goosebumped and smiling while you reach for the nearest box of tissues.
Overall, Brothers is a solid album that’s bound for success. It seems like a very natural progression for The Black Keys, it has elements from several of their recent projects. I’d probably describe it as a mix of approximately 40% “Keep It Hid”, 40% The Black Keys, and 20% Blakroc. It’s easily packing the necessary heat to propel the band to the next level of superstardom. Only time will tell.