The Black Keys: Attack & Release

Music Reviews The Black Keys
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The Black Keys: Attack & Release

Five-year-old duo looks forward by writing for 76-year-old R&B legend

Ghosts—sonic and spectral—cruise Attack & Release, the fifth album by Akron indie-blues mainstays The Black Keys.

The sonic come warbling like Theremins—at least partially at the behest of producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse)—on songs like “Strange Times” and “Lies.” The spectral arrive from the late Ike Turner, for whom the duo originally conceived the 11 songs before Turner’s cocaine overdose in December. Wonderful as they are, imagining the 76-year-old “Rocket 88” creator singing the weary gospel of “Remember When (Side A)” or the reflective “Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be” makes Dan Auerbach’s vocals sound tragically demo-like. Burton’s presence is more authentic than a moonlighting hip-hop producer might suggest, expanding the Keys’ minimalist leanings on subtly lush arrangements like “Oceans & Streams.” Contributions from avant-garde specialists Marc Ribot and Ralph Carney (drummer Patrick Carney’s uncle) grace Attack & Release with a full spectrum of haunt.