Sorry about the delay in posting, been going through Freshers fortnight stuff! One of the nights was a Black Keys cover band in the bar (They were only ok), and I realised I’ve heard a couple of their songs before, but never heard a full album from them. So I decided to listen to Brother, which most critics say is their best so far!
Interestingly, on my first listen through, I recognized a lot of the songs. Then I realised I’ve heard them tons of times in all types of adverts! They’re one of those bands that manage to make songs advertisers love, that just go with anything. I’ve always thought they were kind of ok, but just a bit boring.
The Black Keys had their debut album in 2002, so they’ve been around for a while, and this release in 2010 was their sixth album, so they also had a fair amount of material behind them. They’re basically a simple blues-rock band from the mid-west. They’ve got a similar background to the White Stripes, though it seems like the Black keys are a bit more tougher and pure rock, whereas the White Stripes like to experiment a bit.
So onto the album: I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It was a really pleasant album to listen to, with music in the background while you’re doing whatever, but it’s not the kind of album that makes you sit down and listen to it. In fact, you don’t even need to, lyrically it’s pretty simple and easy-going and musically, it’s nothing that makes you take notice, just pure blues-rock.
A couple of songs on the album definitely stand out to me: “Too Afraid To Love You” stands out straight away on the first listen, it sounds very low-fi, haunted, and distant. The vocals are unique to the rest of the album, with a falsetto rather than the normal grumble they do. It makes you think of a hazy bar in Western Texas that stocks nothing but whiskey. “Howlin’ For You” also stands out with how fun and easy to step to it is, definitely one that I could see was rocking out a lot of bars in the early 2000’s, with its fantastically fun beat!
“Next Girl” is another one; if one song could symbolise the entire album, it’s this one. Dripping in blues-rock, from a wah-wah pedal to the stinger of a bass tuning up. A tambourine used for the beat to the backing vocals of a girl singing “la-la-la-la”. The lyrics are over-the-top blues about wayward women and heartbreak from the singer. This song is literally The Black Keys, if you don’t like it, you won’t like them, if you do, you will!
Finally, it’s worth mentioning “Everlasting Light”. I’m very surprised they put this song at the beginning of the album. In every song, as I said above, everything’s sung with this low-fi howling grumble coming through your subwoofer. In this song however, the singer (Dan Auerbach), gives this impressive falsetto to the track. It’s really surprising how good he is at it and how different it sounds to the rest of the album. I can’t help but feel putting this song a few tracks in, would have helped break up the boredom that sets in between tracks 9-13.
Apart from those songs, I’ll admit the album is nothing special. It’s good music to work to, since you don’t need to focus on the music, but at the same time, with how bluesy it is, it can bring you down at times.
I definitely think it’s worth giving this album at least one listen, you’ll probably add a few tracks to your Spotify starred list, but you’ll forget most of the songs just as quickly as you heard them!
Got an album suggestion for me? Send me a message!