The sixth studio album from Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney is their first since various recent side-projects - but it doesn't sound like any of their experiments have influenced the Black Keys' sound a great deal.
It's not often you find a band like The Black Keys - that is, one that's almost as respected amongst their fellow musicians as they are their own fanbase. For Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach, the admiration is well-earned. The Ohio duo have made five albums since 2001, all with varying degrees of commercial success and spit 'n' polish (their first two were recorded in Carney's basement) but all enjoyable romps, nonetheless.
'Brothers', their sixth, is their first studio release since a) working with producer Danger Mouse on their experimental BlackRoc collaborative album and on their last studio record 'Attack and Release', and b) Auerbach's own solo foray. It sounds like none of those projects have had much of an effect on the duo's chemistry, though - these songs are classic Black Keys: rugged, bruised and partially shambolic ventures into garage and blues-rock.
Immediate standouts are undoubtedly lead single 'Tighten Up', its rattle and clank spliced with Auerbach's primal yelp and a super-melodic guitar riff; 'The Only One' sounds like a dreamy outtake from the original 'Nuggets' compilation; 'Ten Cent Pistol' experiments with Leadbelly-style blues, and the soul-infused 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has hints of Motown and/or Smokey Robinson-esque soul.
Yet for all their shoulder-shifting, whiskey-tinted authenticity, 'Brothers' doesn't see Carney and Auerbach take a whole lot of risks. For that, it'll be filed under 'another fine record' from The Black Keys, but probably not their best.