The Black Keys
Since, the duo has
teamed with producer Danger Mouse, collaborated on hip-hop side projects, gone
solo and, on their latest, found themselves at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound
Studios. Yep, it’s been something of a zigzag road toward adulthood and, maybe,
Most here sounds of
a piece, with sinewy keys, a rambunctious, rubbery bass sound (overcompensation
for the instrument’s absence on early outings?), a new polish on guitarist Dan
Auerbach’s voice and a general vibe of loose R&B-ish rock. Sure the Keys
can still cook: “Unknown Brother” stews nicely, “Next Girl” burns, “She’s Long
Gone” is pure Southern deep-fry. But the more ingredients they seem to add
(Danger Mouse again, that overdone bass!), the less there is differentiating
the band from, say, The Strokes.
There are reminders that the boys haven’t quite grown up. “Sinister Kid” sounds like an overproduced nugget from an earlier album. But in comparison to those salad days, this effort feels like the pair throwing on some button-downs for a little laptop job search at the corner Starbucks.