The Black Keys are the “racket” your mother tells to turn down, the stuff your dad compares to his favorite rock bands, and the one thing you might be able to agree with your siblings on. Their sparse sound, combining a killer electric guitar with sharp, driving beats is a welcome change in a music scene dominated by ultra-layered sound.
Chances are you’ve probably heard a song by the Black Keys already. Their music has gotten exposure in “School of Rock,” a Twilight soundtrack and the latest version of “Rock Band.”
In 2002, the duo from Akron, Ohio, debuted with “The Big Come Up,” where they began developing a sound that combined elements of garage punk and blues—which would not be a crowded genre if not for The White Stripes, to whom they have drawn even more comparisons than their color-coded band names and Midwest background.
But their latest record has done well to distinguish them, earning the number two spot on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of 2010 and iTunes’ Best Album of the Year amongst other critical recognition. Although lengthy (consisting of fifteen tracks), the album finds them at the top of their craft, with a stripped, simple sharpness. The cover is a perfect allusion to this: “This is an album by The Black Keys. The name of this album is Brothers.”
The second track “Next Girl” had a great amount of meaning to Carney, who had just recently gone through a divorce. And, really, it is relevant to anyone going through a breakup: “Oh my next girl will be nothing like my ex- girl. I made mistakes back then, I’ll never do it again. Oh my next girl will be nothing like my ex- girl. It was a painful dance, now I’ve got a second chance.”
From “Howlin’ for You” to “Tighten Up,” love is a major theme here. Whether you’re in love, waiting for a certain someone, or would love to get a little bit of revenge, Brothers will fulfill your needs. There is also a touch of darkness and psychedelic found in the album, keeping to the traditions from their past five albums.
After a sixth successful album, it is safe to say that the Black Keys have found their niche, and, according to fans and music critic alike, they are welcome to stay as long as they want.