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The songs sound as if Britpop and the Beatles rose from the dead in Ohio. | Photo: chevy/Wikimedia commons
The songs sound as if Britpop and the Beatles rose from the dead in Ohio. | Photo: chevy/Wikimedia commons
Martin Hošna -

The Black Keys Playfully Travel in Time Once Again

Since their reunion, the central duo of The Black Keys, singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, have been exploding with new ideas. Their twelfth album, Ohio Players, is a tribute to soul and blues, where rawness meets groovy melodies.

The good news is that The Black Keys keep sounding fresh, exploring new boundaries and pushing themselves musically. This has been greatly aided by celebrity guests in the studio. Beck, a multi-instrumentalist and longtime friend of the duo, is credited with composing half of the album's tracks, while Noel Gallagher of Oasis co-wrote three tunes. And indeed, the result sounds as if the Beatles rose from the dead and Britpop from the ashes in Ohio.

The Ohio Players album is, to some extent, a more cheerful version of Turn Blue (2014), the album on which The Black Keys and producer Danger Mouse strayed furthest from simple garage rock. The growling bass, three-chord fuzzy guitar in a funky rhythm and driving chorus indicate that a mix of genres with catchy melodic lines will play a central role in the songs to come.

That is not only the case of the blues-punk song "Don't Let Me Go" with falsetto vocals, but also the soul hit "Beautiful People (Stay High)", perfectly tailored for a retro party. We can hear echoes of both Oasis and George Harrison in "On The Game", a funky groove dominates in "You'll Pay", fuzzy guitars and eccentric drumming stir up the garage dirt in "Please Me (Till I'm Satisfied)".

The hip-hop insert in the middle of the song "Candy & Her Friends" by rapper Lil Noid sounds like from another galaxy and downright out of place, disrupting the consistency of the album, which is then half-remedied by Beck's "Paper Crown" with an epic guitar solo and a hip-hop ending by Juicy C.

What can musicians appreciate about the album?

The Black Keys rely on collaborations with friends in the business. While they stay strong on tracks that rumble with garage rock, falsetto, and minimalist, colourful instrumentation, the unexplored territory of rap sounds rather forced in their delivery. Still, the Ohio Players album is a great record with distinctly strong moments which even Quentin Tarantino could easily choose repertoire from for his movie soundtrack (e.g. "Read Em And Weep")..

The Black Keys – Ohio Players obal

The Black Keys – Ohio Players

The Black Lips, 00:44:02

garage/retro rock

Tagy The Black Keys album review

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Martin Hošna