A Long Way From Mississippi
The Black Keys were clearly befuddled by their 2011 Grammy wins. Facing steep competition from artists such as Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend, the Ohio duo took home three golden gramophones for their critically acclaimed Brothers. Their victories should come as no surprise, however—the band is in top form on this sixth studio release, and the album is a blues-rock masterpiece.
While new stylistic components pull the Keys away from straight-up guitar rock, they transform the album into something just fresh enough. If the Danger Mouse collaboration on Attack & Release was a step away from the band’s raw roots, Brothers strikes a nice balance between the two incarnations. The band is playing with their characteristic sound, adding invigorating elements without overwhelming their much-lauded aesthetic.
Perhaps the most affecting of these additions is Dan Auerbach’s soaring, vibrato-drenched falsetto—it adds a haunting richness to songs like “The Only One” and opener “Everlasting Light.” The album as a whole explores new realms without abandoning the band’s strong tradition, managing to be exciting and lively, if a bit lengthy.
From the Danger Mouse-produced single “Tighten Up” to the groovy and grimy “Black Mud,” it examines all of the genre’s nuances. The Black Keys have become the poster children for modern blues-rock, and Brothers illustrates their mastery of the field. The truly skilled are able to play with genre conventions, and the duo again proves its considerable ability with an exciting addition to an already extraordinary repertoire