The Black Keys return to roots


Rejoice Black Keys fans. After a five-year hiatus, they are back with their album titled “Let’s Rock.”

The Black Keys, consisting of guitarist, singer, and songwriter Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney have been going strong for close to 17 years, as their first debut album was released in 2002. Since then they have been slowly climbing to the top of the rock/alternative scene, first reaching it with their 2010 release “Brothers.”

They stayed on top for half a decade, releasing two more albums, which received praise from fans and critics. After the release and tour of “Turn Blue,” the duo had enough with touring and took a break from the band.

The break was well deserved, as fans understood the grind they were on for the last 12 years. In the back of the fans’ minds, though, was a worry of how long they would go without another record. They didn’t know how long they would go without another record. They didn’t know how long the ‘dry spell,’ as it were, would last, and at times thought that Auerbach and Carney would never get back together.

They did, though, and as a Black Keys fan, I was happy that they did. “Let’s Rock” was a huge anticipation for me heading into the summer and expectations were high. After listening to it multiple times, I left satisfied but a little underwhelmed.

This album definitely has the hit songs. “Lo/Hi” is hands down the best song with its loud and catchy sound. The guitar and the drums work well with each other, and Auerbach’s voice adds a calm balance to the loud instrumental.

“Go” is another favorite of mine. It’s got a catchy rhythm and a quick pace to it. The song has themes about summer, and many times during the warm weather months, I blasted this song while driving by the beach and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s not going to end up on an all-time summer song list like Eagles’ “Take It Easy” or “Surfin U.S.A” by the Beach Boys, but definitely one to remember in 2019.

“Under The Gun” hasn’t gotten a lot of talk from fans and critics, but is easily one of my favorites. It’s a throwback to the band’s early work. Auerbach works with a guitar riff that instantly grabs the listener, as it’s catchy and has a ton of energy to it. The chorus is the best part, as Auerbach sings, “On the road but I’m on the run/It ain’t no fun when you’re under the gun/We made a deal but the dealer won and I’m under the gun.”

“Sit Around And Miss You” is the big outlier. With most of the record trying to work with a loud electric guitar sound, this song adds mostly acoustic guitar work. Carney’s drumming is a huge focus and overall, it turns out to be a nice change of pace as you listen throughout the entire album.

Despite these favorites, most of the time I was bored while listening as songs got repetitive. It got to the point where I couldn’t really tell which song was which. Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy that the Black Keys are back again, but I was just expecting more with “Let’s Rock.”

Maybe it’s my fault, as I expected them to try to keep evolving their sound as their previous release sounded like a modern day Pink Floyd album with their own twist. Instead, they went back to their roots with elements of early blues, pop, and garage rock, something that they were known for with their most successful albums. Many of the songs that I didn’t like on the record I could picture being b-sides to “Brothers” or “El Camino.”

Do I think this is a horrible album? Absolutely not. But I think it’s fair to say that they will be content with where they are at in their lives, as they should be. They have earned that and don’t have anything to prove to their fans and critics. I will continue being fans of theirs, but I will start to really lower my expectations with each future release.