8/05/2010

This is an album review.

First three adjectives that come to mind when listening to this album:
Bluesy
Nostalgic
Distinct

Three favorite songs on album:
Howlin' For You
Tighten Up
Black Mud


My first encounter with The Black Keys was brought to me by the shameful promotions of Camel cigarettes. At the time I was living in the hot bed of Southern hospitality known as Atlanta. I'm not exactly sure where I was when the Camel representative approached me (probably because I was drunk at the time) with the opportunity to sell my soul to the devil in trade for a couple of The Black Keys tickets, but regardless, I thought it an even trade (although I had no idea who this band was).

The concert was at the Tabernacle. I distinctly remember being overwhelmingly impressed. Fast forward 3 years. The Black Keys introduce Brothers, the newest addition to their discography.

Brothers is full of grunge, blues, and throwback particles in a well-rounded record. It has a similar consistency and quality to The Black Keys' other records, and considering it's a two man band, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are able to create a surprising richness and depth that is generally found in bands with more members.

The themes on Brothers range from love ("The Only One") to death ("Unknown Brother") tossed together in a bluesy lyrical style. However, the real joy of the album isn't necessarily the lyrics, it's the emotion and craftsmanship that Auerbach and Carney put behind those lyrics...it all fits perfectly.

One of the stand-out tracks, roughly in the middle of the album, is "Too Afraid To Love You." The tone of this somber and honest ballad is slightly different than The Black Keys' usual styling of just a guitar and drums. The addition of the harpsichord gives the song the broken and overgrown feeling of a bygone era. It reminds me of "Life In Mono" by Mono (on the Great Expectations soundtrack) but a bit more gritty and eerie.  

"Never Gonna Give You Up" is another track worth mentioning. It is a slow, unexpected throwback to 60's pop reminiscent of Dusty Springfield.


Album design:
The album design for Brothers pretty much made me cream myself. It's simplistic, witty, and all around genius. Probably one of the best designs I've ever seen for an album. Here's why:

1. It appears as though the font is a hand drawn version of Cooper Black (or something similar). Cooper Black is a ironic, friendly and bold type face. In large amounts, it can become dangerous and slutty, but in small, tasteful quantities, it can add a dash of humor and style that not many other fonts can. Cooper Black can also be found on classics like Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys.

2. Only 3 colors are used: white, black & red. Sticking to simple basics will always make something seem more appealing and timeless.

3. Lyrics are included on the back of a large foldout poster. Lyrics and a poster? Wow, what a novel idea.

4. Wording. The album says things like "This is an album by The Black Keys," and "This is a Black Keys poster." Stating the obvious always makes me laugh.

5. Lastly, the actual compact disc is heat sensitive. Remember hypercolor shirts? It's much like that but in black and white. This kills me. I freaked out when I saw this. Ask my girlfriend. She'll tell you.

(Disclaimer: This album was given to me for free by the lovely people at Nonesuch Records)  


Next Up:
Best Coast, Crazy For You (2010)