The Black Keys first album in five years lacks inspiration and immediacy

The Black Keys first album in five years lacks inspiration and immediacy

Words by Jonathan Reynoso

It’s the longest break between albums in The Black Keys’ career.

After five years of studio silence, guitar and drum duo The Black Keys return with an album titled ‘Let’s Rock’. The results are mixed.

Straight off the bat, The Black Keys kick the door open with ‘Shine A Little Light’, a compact and soulful track that serves as a welcomed opener. With so much time between albums, the band needed an attention-grabbing track to hook the audience and ‘Shine A Little Light’ does just that. 

As we further travel through the album, the psychedelic haze heard on the band’s previous album Turn Blue appears once again on ‘Walk Across The Water’. It’s a gorgeous love song that with a beautiful, swirling guitar-picked riff towards the back end of the track.

As the album reaches it’s the second half, the songs, unfortunately, start to sound anonymous. The ballad ‘Sit Around and Miss You’ is a sweet, sentimental song but it quickly becomes apparent that the band is reaching for sounds from their influences. T-Rex, ZZ Top, and ‘70s era Rolling Stones all leave their fingerprints on this album.

The album winds down with the final track ‘Fire Walk With Me’ featuring more cookie-cutter hooks to fill out the run time.

The Black Keys do well with leather jacket jams reflecting on the days of the pre-hip hop invasion. I appreciate that Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney came back to produce the album all on their own, but their ideas this time around don’t feel as inspired or immediate as the material that came before Brothers. They do rock, though, and that’s what counts.