REVIEW: The Black Keys Return Confidently on ‘Let’s Rock’

        An invitation we can all enjoy, Let’s Rock is the Black Keys’ ninth studio album and a breath of smog-free air for rock listeners. After a 5-year hiatus, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are officially back. Their new album is the perfect soundtrack for cruising on a motorcycle, coasting down a long, winding highway without a decent haircut.

        Having already won four Grammy awards, including one for best rock album of the year in 2013, the duo has already seen the music industry for all it has to offer. With time to retreat and catch their breath, they returned to the studio with a pep in their step and a hope to create a product that is both extemporaneous and self-indulgent. They did not need to conform to industry expectations this time around, and the album reflects that willingness to make what they love. They rocked it.

        Every song on the 12-track album features a driving beat that empowers the listener  with a sense of personal freedom and a willful carelessness to the world around them. As compared to their last album Turn Blue, Let’s Rock  brings the Black Keys back to the basics of rock’n roll without the psychedelic undertones brought by Turn Blue’s co-producer, Danger Mouse. Let’s Rock features a lot of high-pitched, screaming, guitar riffs while also sporting low-toned, moving, rhythmic bases. Leaving out keyboards altogether, Carney called it “an homage to electric guitar.” So if you’re in the mood for guitar heavy production, look no further.

        The three singles off this album, Lo/Hi, Eagle Birds, and Go, charted all over the world. Lo/Hi performed especially well, topping the following charts simultaneously: Adult Alternative Songs, Rock Airplay, Billboard’s Mainstream Rock, and Alternative Songs. This was the first time any song had achieved this feat. The Black Keys’ reputation definitely preceded them in these releases, leading to mainstream success. They have been known for making first-rate music in the past, and the commercial success of Let’s Rock proves even a 5-year break can’t slow their momentum.

        Being childhood friends from back when they were 9 years old, Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach have always set out to create music with purpose. For a long time, they were making music that would abide by industry standards, but you can tell they kicked critics to the curb in their creation of Let’s Rock. The album received just modest scores critically: 74/100 on the popular review website Metacritic and 7/10 on music blog Pitchfork. The album’s lukewarm critical reception was likely because of its lack of diversity production-wise, but the Black Keys seemed more keen on creating something purely for the love of creating it. They clearly don’t care about the scores, they just want to rock. 🍑