6.5
Music  |  Reviews

The Black Keys: Brothers

[Nonesuch]

May 19, 2010  |  9:00am
The Black Keys: <em>Brothers</em>

Music shines, lyrics whine

Yes, Danger Mouse produced a track (“Tighten Up”) for this blues-rock duo on its sixth album. But the name to note in the credits is mixer Tchad Blake, who gives the songs a swampy texture that nevertheless carves out individual space for each instrument. Guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney swing more loosely than usual, too, particularly on the Bo Diddley-gone-glam stomp “Howlin’ For You.” “The Only One” incorporates droning organ chords to nice effect.

The problem is the songs. Auerbach can sing with feeling (see the cover of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which features vocals reminiscent of vintage Todd Rundgren), but his lyrics are so banal they hardly seem worth the trouble. Like on “Too Afraid to Love You,” to pick just one example: “I can’t afford to lose one more teardrop from my eye.” Come on. These guys rock hard, but they need to lose the high school poetry.

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