The Black Keys — the rock duo of singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney — are back with their first new album since “True Blue” in 2014. “Let’s Rock” was released on June 28, and it’s their ninth studio album overall. So what do critics think of their comeback?
As of this writing “Let’s Rock” has a MetaCritic score of 73 based on 10 reviews counted so far — seven of them positive, three of them somewhat mixed. To put that in perspective, that’s on par with “Turn Blue’s” score five years ago, but it’s shy of their two most successful albums thus far: 82 for “Brothers” (2010) and 84 for “El Camino” (2011), both of which went double-platinum and won them Grammys. “El Camino” was even nominated for Album of the Year.
Reviewers describe “Let’s Rock” as true to its title: a “back to basics” album “stuffed full of guitar riffs,” “simple hooks” and “unpretentious lyrics.” They “put the focus back on guitar and drums.” But despite its “spontaneous energy,” does it suffer from a “lack of impact”? Does it not “inspire much in the way of excitement or leave a lasting impression”?
Overall, The Black Keys have won four Grammys out of a total of 10 nominations. They claimed Best Alternative Album (“Brothers”) and Best Rock Duo/Group Performance (“Tighten Up”) in 2011. Then they took Best Rock Album (“El Camino”) and Best Rock Performance (“Lonely Boy”) in 2013. Their most recent nominations came in 2015 when “True Blue” earned them bids for Best Rock Album and Best Rock Performance (“Fever”). Will the record academy welcome them back in 2020? Check out some of the reviews below, and make your Grammy predictions for Album of the Year right here in our predictions center.
Patrick Smith (The Independent): “Five years since their last album, the Ohioan duo have gone back to basics. We’re past the subtle inflections and lacquered psychedelia of ‘Turn Blue’; ‘Let’s Rock’ is all about simple hooks and nagging choruses, ‘an homage,’ in the words of drummer Patrick Carney, ‘to the electric guitar.’ Rooting their songs in the past, The Black Keys combine unpretentious lyrics with swampy blues grit. It’s a formula that works.”
David Fricke (Rolling Stone): “The Black Keys, in turn, affirm their continuing mission in the title of their first album in five years. Singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney bring a heightened purism too, emphasizing the power-duo force of their early records amid the riffing storm in ‘Eagle Birds’ and ‘Go.’ The effect: like 2003’s ‘Thickfreakness’ in higher fidelity.”
Eric R. Danton (Paste): “They strip away all that extra stuff on ‘Let’s Rock’ and put the focus back on guitar and drums. Apart from some backing vocals, Auerbach and Carney played everything on ‘Let’s Rock,’ and produced it, too … There’s nothing particularly complicated or out-there about ‘Let’s Rock’: it’s a rock ’n’ roll record, stuffed full of guitar riffs.”
Rhian Daly (NME): “The beloved blues rock kings return, after five years away, with a record whose spontaneous energy can’t mask its undercooked sound and lack of impact … It’s a pretty lively listen, zipping through its tracks without the drudgery that musical density or unnecessary flamboyant embellishments can bring. But it also doesn’t inspire much in the way of excitement or leave a lasting impression.”
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