You might have wondered whether the curious decision by The Black Keys to presumably name this new album, their eleventh, after the song of the same name by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band might offer some clues on the musical direction of it - could it possibly hint at a return to their bluesy roots, especially after last year’s ‘Delta Kream’, full of hill country blues songs, suggested they were nostalgic for the past? On the evidence of its ten tracks, though, this is a step forward rather than back for The Black Keys, and might actually be the most varied record they’ve made in a decade, since 2011’s ‘El Camino’ saw them make the step up to arenas. ‘Dropout Boogie’ is an album with a lot of that record’s poppy appeal, whether it’s on the soulful earworm ‘It Ain’t Over’ or the downtempo groove of the yearning ‘How Long’, but elsewhere, there’s the same kind of rock’n’roll, riff-driven crunch they made their name on, especially on the standout ‘Your Team Is Looking Good’. Notwithstanding their work with Danger Mouse, ‘Dropout Boogie’ is the first Black Keys record to feature contributors other than frontman Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, something reflected in its more expansive sound; guitar work from ZZ Top legend Billy F Gibbons, in particular, elevates the record. Twenty years on from their debut, ‘The Big Come Up’, it’s a statement of how far they’ve come, as well as an indicator of where they might be heading next.
More like this
Check out first single ‘Wild Child’ now.
The landmark album turns 10 later this year.
It’s likely to appeal mostly to Dan and Patrick’s fellow blues nerds over anyone else.
A depressingly unimaginative thing.