Between recent collaborations with Danger Mouse, Dan Auerbach's solo album, Patrick Carney's Drummer side band and the hip-hop Blakroc project, it seemed like the Black Keys had lost interest in minimalist guitar/drum blues rock. Evidently not. Brothers finds the duo returning to their signature sound, albeit a much smoother, groovier version.
The band continues to find new ways to expand within rigid, self-imposed parameters. Although the album veers away from the spaced-out psychedelia of 2007's Attack & Release, it retains much of that album's slickness. Abandoning the grit of earlier releases, Brothers introduces elements of Prince-style soul (Everlasting Light), Motown balladry (These Days) and electric 60s Muddy Waters fuzzed-out psych blues.
They may have other interests now, but there's still gas left in the Black Keys' tank.
Top track: Everlasting Light
The Black Keys play Kool Haus August 3.