The Black Keys: Let’s Rock review – rousing return makes good on its title

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have remedied their blues via a no-nonsense album packed with crowdpleasing riffs

In 2002, when the Black Keys released their debut album, you could have got very long odds on them being the one early-noughties garage-blues band to not just survive but prosper. Their feud with Jack White now looks less like the resentment of someone furious about them hanging on to his coattails and more like someone bitter about them overtaking him so thoroughly. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have done so by making records that sometimes journey outside their comfort zone – like their last one, 2014’s mildly trippy Turn Blue – but always remain anchored by thoroughly solid songwriting.

When they finished touring Turn Blue, Auerbach said he had become so alienated from his job that he could play to a huge crowd without thinking about what he was doing. The five-year break seems to have concentrated his mind. The intentions of Let’s Rock are evident from its title. And, in case you felt any ambiguity, the album opens with a riff so thrillingly, brutally obvious – on Shine a Little Light – that White will doubtless accuse them of having nicked it from some aborted followup to Seven Nation Army, while the dirty, distorted guitar of Lo/Hi has something of ZZ Top (and the John Lee Hooker-style riff of La Grange) heading into an arena-ready chorus. The lyrics are rarely more than functional (“See twin eagle birds up in the tree / One for you and there’s one for me,” Auerbach sings on Eagle Birds) but the music is persuasive: hard, shining rock, with an irresistible pop edge.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Black Keys: “Let’s Rock” review – easy-listening return to basics
(Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch)

Phil Mongredien

30, Jun, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
The Black Keys – review
The Black Keys locate that imaginary button that makes grown adults want to play air guitar and perform drum patterns on their knees, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

05, Feb, 2012 @5:36 PM

Article image
Black Keys regret inducting Steve Miller into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
After Miller’s angry tirade mars ceremony, singer Dan Auerbach tells Rolling Stone ‘the whole process was unpleasant’ and that he and bandmate Patrick Carney left while Texan’s band was still playing

Guardian music

14, Apr, 2016 @7:35 AM

Article image
Black Honey: Written & Directed review
The Brighton quartet’s second album is a self-possessed return full of cinematic tracks with a dark, biting edge

Dave Simpson

19, Mar, 2021 @8:30 AM

Article image
The Arcs: Yours, Dreamily review – Black Keys frontman bares his soul
Dan Auerbach teams up with musical compadres and moves away from bluesy rock’n’roll

Lanre Bakare

03, Sep, 2015 @8:20 PM

Black Keys, Wilton's Music Hall, London

Wilton's Music Hall, London

Paul Lester

24, Mar, 2008 @12:05 AM

The Black Keys: El Camino – review

The best rock'n'roll album of the year? Michael Hann thinks so

Michael Hann

01, Dec, 2011 @9:59 PM

Article image
Charli XCX: Charli review – a raw, rousing step towards superstardom
The embattled singer reveals her anxieties and coaxes brilliance from various guests in a candid, confident third album

Laura Snapes

13, Sep, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
The Black Keys: Turn Blue review – polished and commercial, but never craven or compromised
Are the Black Keys still White Stripes clones? Their supremely confident eighth album suggests a band at the peak of their powers now occupying their own orbit

Alexis Petridis

08, May, 2014 @2:30 PM

The Black Keys | Pop review
Roundhouse, London
Singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach may have hacked his beard back, but not his band's full-figured blues-rock sound, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

24, Jun, 2010 @10:00 PM