The album's title can be read as a mission statement. On their journey from lo-fi garage rockers to arena conquerors The Black Keys strayed from their hard-rocking roots, slathering their grungy sound in slick polish and much aural accoutrement.
Let's Rock, their ninth record, does away with all that extra flourish and sees the band get back to the seemingly basic task of rocking the hell out. Even if the title and rock iconography of the cover do suggest a much a heavier album than what you'll find.
Despite borrowing the electric chair imagery they haven't become AC/Black Keys here. There's some true stompers here but filtered through their pop sensibilities and love of a solid hook .
The duo of Dan Auerbach (guitars and vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums) certainly kick things off the right way with the head-nodding power riff of Shine A Little Light before shifting gear with the rocking 70s groove explosions of Fire Walk With Me and Get Yourself Together and the easy rolling Nashville-tinged track Eagle Birds
But even with their dedication to rock out on this album, the band haven't completely turned away from blue. The quieter, more maudlin songs like Tell Me Lies and Every Little Thing ensure there's some emotion amongst the rocking. Of the more introspective moments I developed a fondness for the Stealer's Wheel-meets-Paul McCartney vibe of Sit Around and Miss You.
Big on ear-grabbing hooks, fist-pumping riffs, blazing guitar solos and sing-along choruses, the stripped-back sound of Let's Rock certainly amps you up and gets you going. But for all the kick ass sentiment of the record there's not as much fire in their belly as you'd expect. There's a tangible lack of danger and the unexpected on the album. There's no escaping that it's all just a little... comfortable.
Still, there's a lot of fun to be had here and some truly great backroom bar blues rock. You can't say The Black Keys haven't done their part. The big question is, are you ready to rock?
The Black Keys
They will, they will, rock you.