When The Black Keys released their last effort, Attack & Release, it was hyped as the duo’s breaking out of their blues rock box, but as the prophet Chuck D has proclaimed for decades, “Don’t believe the Hype!” Brothers, is Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney’s coming out party and it is a blinding success.
Having been amazingly prolific in recent years (branching out with solo records and working with various MC’s on Blakroc) has opened up the group’s pallet wonderfully. Sounding spacious and complete, Brothers employs the full gamut of instrumentation for the duo to toy with. Bass, swirling effects, and a harpsichord define the brilliance of “Too Afraid To Love You” as a crackling fuzz pedal is brought out to spike your speakers along with rhythmic handclaps on “The Go Getter”.
“Howlin’ For You” hops and marches, picking up sounds and added flourishes along the way like an old broken-down jalopy of a city bus, while “The Next Girl” gets grimy with a low down groove and jangling cymbals that reverberate over the direct lyrics. “Ten Cent Pistol” is laid back lounge lizard blues and “She’s Long Gone” sounds the closest to past Black Key efforts with its bottomless drums and repetitive riffs, but this album is all about the future of this band.
Surprisingly it is the bass and the fluidity with which it is employed throughout Brothers that really stands out. A Stax soul feel embellishes the album making itself at home via the warm production along with Auerbach’s voice which can ring falsetto or burn softly or simply break; all when directly needed to strike at a songs heart. The soul is everywhere yet really comes to the forefront with the last two tracks; their cover of Gerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” complete with strings, chimes, booms and passion and the epic rumblings of the excellent disk closing “These Days”.
Emotion is engrained in the grooves of Brothers (perhaps because of some life altering events in Auerbach and Carney’s lives) yet fans of the duo’s blazing 6-string/drum relatively simple past efforts may be put off at first listen. If that’s the case, give it another whirl with an open mind and enjoy the scope of sound and feeling that The Black Keys have pulled off on this exhilarating release.