Sound — 9
When a musician emits the blues for the first time, it stays with them forever. The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are a great example. The duo known for howling about love and horrid affairs have defined blues-rock over the past few years with releases such as Magic Potion and Attack & Release, but none have been as soulful as their sixth studio record Brothers. Though there's an abundance of heavy alternative rock magic that's defined them and their other projects (look at probable singles like "Next Girl"), Auerbach and Carney venture out into the different personalities of blues. The instrumental "Black Mud" takes a page out of classic rock and sets it afire with a signature riff and pleading guitar parts while "The Only One" showcases Motown soul built with a modern backbone. Such experimentation seems unusual for the group, but the fact of the matter is, it's fresh, inviting and melodic enough to make the collection of tracks timeless.
Lyrics — 9
The rustic wail of Auerbach's is a notorious one and on Brothers, it doesn't disappoint despite influences being put on display across the board. For the longtime Black Keys fan, there's songs like "She's Long Gone" that are reminiscent of his simple yet bold testaments that make ladies swoon and knees buckle. But for the new-age follower, there's also a mix of tracks that share similarities with the singer/guitarist's solo release from last year. Although it seems like a bad thing, it's not, as fans have come to known Auerbach for so long that the delicate and honest tone his voice takes at some points is satisfying. With blues being a crippling subject, the band's songwriting seems polished and more creative, but that could just be due to arrangements like "Never Give You Up" that feature the singer hitting notes we're not use to hearing.
Overall Impression — 9
It's about time The Black Keys issued a new record, especially with numerous side-projects that prove the group still haven't lost their touch. However, it wouldn't be surprising if people expected more from Brothers. Instead of unleashing a wrath of blues-rock fury upon the ears of many, the group explore the roots of blues and come out with a few honest and heartful numbers meant more for that slow dance or night on the roof with a loved one. Just don't think the brain-teasing rock riffs have departed. One thorough listen to Brothers will reassure the band's creativity has indeed not died and is bound to live another day in heartache.