Thursday, July 7, 2022

Album Review: The Black Keys - Dropout Boogie

The Black Keys
Dropout Boogie
***and1/2 out of *****

Back in 2019 The Black Keys returned after a prolonged burnout induced hiatus to release Let It Rock. In truth, I needed to look that review up because the last collection of originals from Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney was completely fine, serviceable, and instantly forgettable. Their newest collection Dropout Boogie feels like an extension of that same formula, the duo are just putting out perfectly acceptable blues based rock and roll in their patented fashion without the stunning highs of their creative peak (2010's Brothers) or their catchy commercial breakthrough (2011's El Camino). 

This isn't a necessarily a bad thing. There are so few rock bands that can fill arenas or amphitheaters these days and The Black Keys certainly can still put asses in the seats. The opening song and first single checks every box that the Keys go for with fuzzy guitar, rock drumming, sealed up with a catchy lyric. Even bringing in co-songwriters Greg Cartwright and Angelo Petraglia can't alter the course for "Wild Child" as it is clearly classic BK's. 

Another noticeable collaborator arrives in the form of Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top to play "featured" guitar on "Good Love" and this pairing is representative of the band at this moment.  ZZ Top were a sturdy outfit who hit it big, then never really changed what got them there, and the Keys seem to be super content to follow that path. 

There are splashes of instrumentation to keep things moving forward like the wah-wah and shaking percussion on the overlong "It Ain't Over" and some Hammond organ from Ray Jacildo on the yearning soul tinged love song "How Long". The blues rock vamping on "For The Love of Money" is something this band can do in it's sleep but still revs the motor while the highlight track "Baby I'm Coming Home" completely cops the main "Midnight Rider" riff but injects some sexy swagger to the proceedings.  

Those classic rock homages/rip-offs have been with the band for a very long time, but that blues rock feel is what the band is all about. These days the buzzy rocker "Burn the Damn Thing Down" is par for the course, the group talks about destruction but the tune is nowhere as urgent as the title suggests. The Black Keys are happy to just roll along in their own well earned (and heard many times before) style on Dropout Boogie; another perfectly fine, if fairly forgettable, album.      
Support the band, buy the album and peep some video below:

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