The Black Keys’ latest album Let’s Rock is appropriately named. It kicks off with roaring electric guitar on “Shine A Little Light” and heavy distortion crops up throughout the album.
After a five year hiatus, the band makes it abundantly clear what they plan to do. They’re making music again and they plan to have fun with it. “Let’s Rock” is thus as much of a statement as it is a telling album title.
“Eagle Birds” is a groovy blues track. The guitar riff is playful and crunchy, bouncing off a classic 12 bar. It’s unpretentious with Dan Auerbach proclaiming the simple truth: “Don’t nobody wanna be lonely / Everybody oughta be loved sometime.”
The subsequent track “Lo/Hi” follows in a similar vein. ZZ Top and Jack White influences can definitely be singled out here only Auerbach’s distinctive voice characterizes the track as one from The Black Keys. The lyrics are not poetry, rather they serve the function of fulfilling the recipe for a rock song. In the spirit of “Gold on the Ceiling”, Auerbach sings for the music rather than writing music for his lyrics.
“Tell Me Lies” is an album highlight. Aurbach groans: “Burn, baby burn /
You live and learn every time along the way / Lies, tellin’ lies / Hypnotize, disguising things you say.” The dirty riffs and licks pay homage to rock ‘n’ roll tropes and will inspire every young guitarist to purchase a new pedal immediately.
“Every Little Thing” is also heavier and distorted, firing up with a Jimi Hendrix style opening. Although there is a heavy psychedelic core present here, The Black Keys continue to inject a playful pop edge which keeps their music in the mainstream eye.
At 38-minutes long, Let’s Rock falls on the short side but the lack of quantity is certainly compensated for in terms of the quality. There are no standout “weaker tracks” and The Black Keys keep up the groove from start to finish. If the album title “Let’s Rock” is a statement concerning the band’s comeback, it may as well also qualify as an instruction to fans. There’s no pretense or showing off here, just quality, playful rock music which is bound to get you on your feet.