The Black Keys – ‘Brothers’ | Classic Record Review

Taking a look back at The Black Keys best ever record

Brothers by The Black Keys turns 10 this year, the garage rock outfit from Ohio, who formed in 2001, gained some popularity with their debut The Big Come Up and it’s follow-up Thickfreakness establishing themselves on the indie-rock scene. However, it wasn’t until the release of Brothers in 2010 that they found some mainstream success.

The album opens with ‘Everlasting Light’ a track driven by a slow boom-kick drum beat from Patrick Carney and the falsetto vocals from Dan Auerbach create a hallucinogenic, dream-like sound, it’s one of my favourite album openers of the last decade.

Tighten Up’ the album’s lead single, produced by Danger Mouse, highlights the varied sound of the album. Its lyrical content follows similar themes of classic blues-rock anthems about hopeless love with lyrics like; “Someone said true love was dead, and I’m bound to fall, bound to fall for you.” The melody made up of whistles has a great dark edge, with the catchy guitar work creating the traditional Black Keys sound we are used to, as well as combining a fresh new psychedelic sound for the duo. The B-Side ‘Howlin For You’ brings The Black Keys back to its traditional garage rock roots, led by a muddy-sounding riff from Dan Auerbach and the catchy hook “Baby I’m howlin’ for you” the song benefited from the albums cleaner and slicker production than previous albums. 

Other highlights from the album include, ‘Unkown Brother’ tells the story of Auberbach’s passed brother-in-law “For you, unknown brother, my baby’s mother’s pain ’cause your soul is in heaven but your memory remains” the track is a tearjerker with Auberbach’s sorrowful vocals and a downbeat guitar riff throughout. ‘Too Afraid To Love You’ contains a harpsichord which gives the cut a mystique sound, with the soulful vocals, the track is mixed beautifully by Mark Neil.

The album is closed off with ‘These Days’ a somewhat underrated cut off the album. The slowed-down soul track about the tragic life of drug abuse is a beautifully tragic end to the record with the slow beat from Carney and the despairing riff accompanying the aching vocals from Auerbach.

Overall, Brothers might just be the outfits best record to date. Each track has its signature sound while still paying homage to The Black Keys early work. It provided the duo with their first taste of mainstream success, especially with its lead single ‘Tighten Up’. The group then followed up from the success of this album with their 2011 LP El Camino, further pushing them up festival lineups and setting them up for arena tours.

Words by Jake Morgan

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