Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are known for releasing up-beat songs like “It’s Up to You Now” from Turn Blue (2014), “Lonely Boy” and “Gold on the Ceiling” from El Camino (2011), and “Everlasting Light”, “Tighten Up”, and “Howling for You” from Brothers (2010). Brothers was the album that introduced me to The Black Keys, and their hearty rhythms immediately impressed me. From their beginnings, the Black Keys have almost always supplied a tune that you can get behind.
It has been 17 years plus some change since The Black Keys released The Big Come Up. Tunes like “Busted”, “Run Me Down”, and “Heavy Soul” felt aged when they were only fresh out of the studio. Now that those songs have aged, so have The Black Keys.
The Black Keys have released 9 studio albums in 18 years, not to mention the duo’s many other projects. They followed The Big Come Up in 2002 with Thickfreakness in 2003 and Rubber Factory in 2004. Magic Potion was released in 2006, and in 2008 The Black Keys released Attack & Release to increasing notoriety. In 2010 they took on a new Label that they would keep for their next three albums. Their songs have been featured in several motion pictures, and they’ve rocked out at Lollapalooza, South by Southwest, Coachella, Glastonbury, and other music festivals.
Auerbach and Carney have been doing some new things (see PBS Newshour story here and Rolling Stone story here) with their time over the past 5 years, but 2019 occasioned the release of The Black Keys 9th studio album, Let’s Rock. The two stay true to the albums title, but it’s the lyrics of this album that seemed to take on a deeper vibe. Shine a Little Light feels existential while Every Little Thing seems to advocate for some moderation and self-love while warning about the consequences of one’s actions. Eagle Birds, Low/Hi, and Tell Me Lies express various familiar themes of human nature, and while Breaking Down and Under The Gun deal with more dreary and dire themes. Get Yourself Together and Sit Around And Miss You add to the list of love-themed songs on the album, but Walk Across The Water may be the song with the purest themes of romantic love.
Regardless of my interpretation of these lyrics and the artists’ intentions for them, they are also up for your interpretation. What seems extra special about Let’s Rock, is that you can enjoy musing on the catchy lyrics or infectious rhythms for a longer amounts of time before moving on to something else. Conclusion: The Black Keys are back with their best album yet.