The Black Keys never attempt to offer up anything more than what they already are: an indie blues duo with relationship problems to sing about and plenty of unrefined guitar licks.
Just when it seemed there was no uncovered ground for Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, they delivered Brothers back in May, another bluesy addition to their extensive library. The album contains familiar material but also crosses into new territory, standing out as a progression in The Black Keys' style.
"Everlasting Light," the first track on Brothers, sets up everything the album is: simple lyrics that speak to a specific girl, guitar distortion, loud drum beats and a large helping of the blues. While The Black Keys did not reinvent themselves on Brothers, they did a reasonable amount of experimentation, with Auerbach's surprising falsetto on "Everlasting Light" introducing an element not heard on their first five albums.
The next song on the record, "Next Girl," details a story that everyone can relate to: the recovery from a jilted break-up. As Auerbach sings over a fast beat, you can't help but tap your foot and think about that pretty redhead you loved with the crazy ways that finally drove you away.
The first single off the album, "Tighten Up," delivers The Keys' signature sound with the addition of a whistling melody. The song is reminiscent of the band's last album, Attack and Release, and carries similar tone to their 2008 singles "I Got Mine" and "Same Old Thing."
Brothers is top heavy, dealing out the best songs first. The second leg of the album, though, is also solid. The lyric-less "Black Mud," the account of infatuation found in "The Only One" and the gritty tale of revenge of "Ten Cent Pistol" should satisfy the listener's yearning for the blues throughout the rest of the album.
While The Black Keys' consistent mastery of alternative blues sounds makes each song satisfying, you won't find any sitar solos or accordion riffs, and you certainly will not hear anything that could cause you to question which band you are listening to. Then again, The Black Keys are not a band you revisit for reinvention; they are a band you keep listening to for a strong serving of blues and to keep you occupied while you try not to call that ex.