The Black Keys – Let’s Rock (2019)

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I like The Black Keys.  I do fall into that old cliche of “I like your old stuff better than your new stuff”, but there’s still something thoroughly attractive about their more recent material.  The latest effort, Let’s Rock” is no different.

According to the band, the title came to them after hearing that it was the final words of the first prisoner to be executed in Nashville, in sixteen years.. ok then, let’s rock!

Shine a Little Light is the opening number, and it’s exactly what you’d expect of The Black Keys.  It’s retro sounding and somewhat funky, with definite commercial appeal.  On this, their ninth studio album, the two piece, comprised of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney show that they have grown and matured as songwriters, and the results are great!

Eagle Birds is a bouncy track that I find extremely enjoyable.  Auerbach covers the brunt of the bands musical output, handling the vocals, while also playing all guitars, keyboards and bass and does a fine job of building around the reliable rhythm of Carneys percussive engine.

Lo/Hi sees Auerbach getting a little sultry in the vocal department, while the music grooves along. The effects laden guitar solo is tremendous on this song too.  Walk Across Water adds another layer to the bands sound, with its smooth vibes and Tell Me Lies continues that theme.  On these two tracks, I’m thinking of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.  There’s a lot of pop sensibility included, with traditional rock music forming the foundation.

Every Little Thing features distorted guitars, with southern leanings.  The vocal melody is catchy and should see the band receiving a decent amount of airplay – the same can be said for the majority of songs here.  The Black Keys are playing exactly what they want to play.  I never get the sense that they’re aiming for critical praise or mainstream attention, they have just locked in to that special thing.

Get Yourself together is bombastic and energetic, Sit Around and Miss You sees the band again explore more of the poppy side, Go is another example of a funky and bouncy track, while Breaking Down is the most musically interesting track of the album.

Under the Gun sees the band deliver the closest to straight up rock n roll – the main riff could have been lifted off an AC/DC Record, but the chorus is immense when it unleashed upon your ears.

The final track is Fire Walk With Me.  Vocally it calls Roy Orbison to mind, and that 60’s inspired style melds well with the modern/retro musical backdrop.  This, in my opinion, is a fantastic sound for The Black Keys, and quickly becomes my favourite track from the album.

Thickfreakness will forever be my favourite Black Keys Record, but Let’s Rock is an impressive addition to their discography.

8/10

Review by Shayne McGowan

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