So, last Friday I wrote an instant reaction to the new Black Keys album, "Lets Rock". On first listen, I enjoyed it, and said I needed more time before I could get a really solid feel for the album. Well, I have listened to the entire record over a dozen times now, and I have some thoughts.
First off, a lot of people, a lot of writers and music people love the record. Pitchfork gave it a phenomenal review. Rolling Stone loved it. Paste was on board. Someone said that the record is "garage rock at its finest". I agree with all of these people, except, I do not think it is as groundbreaking, or as exceptional as others. Again, I love love love the album. I cannot state enough. I wouldn't have listened to it as many times as I have, and continue to go back to it, if I didn't enjoy the record. But, I think an album like "Turn Blue" is a better overall record. "Lets Rock", for me, doesn't even sniff "Thickfreakness", which I think is the greatest garage rock record. I like "Rubber Soul" and "Attack and Release" more. For me "Lets Rock" is right up there with "El Camino" or "The Big Come Up". Again, love both of those records, but they wouldn't be the first ones I pick to listen to. I do think "Lets Rock" is better than "Brothers" and "Magic Potion" though.
"Lets Rock" is beautiful in its simplicity. That is what I like most about this album. The songs are no more than 3 to 3 and a half minutes, they are straight forward rock, Auerbach uses his signature distortion, Carney is hammering away at his awkward drum kit, and the record flows. It is an easy and fun listen. I have learned all the words to all the songs already. I love the opening track "Shine A Little Light". It has the classic Black Keys feel, but the instruments give it a newer, cleaner sound that I find nice. I usually prefer the dirty and distorted Black Keys, but "Shine A Little Light" grabs me. I absolutely love "Walk Across the Water". I love how it starts off like it is going to be a heavy rock song, and then totally changes into a love song when Auerbach starts the lyrics. I've grown to adore when the Black Keys do love, or ballad, type songs. They make it sound dingy, but then you listen to the words, and it totally blows me away. It is one of their prettiest songs ever. I can't wait to hear it live in September. "Get Yourself Together" is a classic Black Keys song. It's distorted, it is fast, it is grimy and it rules. "Eagle Birds" is like that too. I don't know much about cars, but when Auerbach starts to talk about twin engines and whatnot, I'm on board. I like the guitar riff in the song too. I like "Breaking Down" because it has that sitar sounding guitar flange to it. It is a nice flowing song too. "Under the Gun" is as true a rock and roll song as you can get in 2019. It is heavy and well played by the band. I like "Go" a bunch too. The video for that song rules. And the closer "Fire Walk With Me" is a perfect way to end this particular record. Its jumpy, quick and precise. See, I named the good majority of the record, and what I like about it.
My only problem is, there are a few songs that just seem like filler. I'm not nuts about "Lo/HI", but that could be because I have heard it a million times already. It was the song chosen for March Madness. "Sit Around and Miss You" is too country for me. "Tell Me Lies" is fine, but I don't like that it follows such a great song, and a sweet song, like "Walk Across the Water". And "Every Little Thing" is fine, but forgettable. I love this record. If I had to rate it out of ten, now that I have listened to it more than enough to give my full opinion on it, I'd give it a 7.5. It is good, I will love it when I hear the songs live and The Black Keys can really do no wrong in my opinion. I'm just a little more tepid than other music writers.
I need to say this one more time, "Lets Rock" is dynamite. Buy it, stream it, do whatever you have to do to hear it because The Black Keys are real writers and musicians, and that is rare nowadays. They rule.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He was going to give “Let’s Rock” 43 thumbs up, but he did not want to insult his favorite band.
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