There's no question that The Black Keys have changed as a band since their commercial breakthrough. For diehard purists of the authentic blues-rock sound they peddled on albums predating 2011's El Camino, the Ohio duo's recent radio-friendly fare doesn't cut the mustard.
They might be relieved, then, to hear that Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney's ninth album is a return of-sorts to their earlier material. Self-produced and stripped back to just the duo (with the occasional backing vocalist, as heard on Get Yourself Together), this toe-tappy collection may have swagger and groove, but not a whole lot of innovation.
Auerbach’s guitar-playing on Eagle Birds and the glam T-Rex-like Lo/Hi is undeniably impressive, but the formulaic nature of songs like the snake-hipped Get Yourself Together and Fire Walk With Me blatantly recall their biggest hit to date, Lonely Boy.
Tell Me Lies and Sit Around and Miss You are infinitely more ear-catching, recalling the poise and subtlety of Auerbach’s excellent 2017 solo record, Waiting on a Song.
After a five year gap, fans may be glad to have them back – but to everyone else, this is just another Black Keys album.