Album Review

The Black Keys - Ohio Players

They find a sound that’s pitch-perfect - and yet seem determined to fidget away from it with mixed results.

The Black Keys - Ohio Players

The progression from 2019’s uninspired ‘Let’s Rock’ to The Black Keys’ last full-length, ‘Dropout Boogie’, in 2022 was welcome, introducing greater variety into what had been reduced to a stale, by-numbers formula for the pair. Across ‘Ohio Players’, in an almost contradictory move, they find a sound that’s pitch-perfect - pure ‘60s guitar pop with a touch of soul here, a smidgen of surf rock there - and yet seem determined to fidget away from it with mixed results. There’s a thread that runs from the Dust Brothers-like shuffle that underpins opener ‘This Is Nowhere’ to the actual Beck-featuring ‘Paper Crown’ - a track so very fun, but also so imbued with the star’s own style, it’s almost as if Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are the guests alongside Juicy J. Conversely, when they opt for their signature sound - ‘Please Me (Till I’m Satisfied)’, ‘Live Till I Die’, and especially closer ‘Everytime You Leave’ (the production of which sounds wholly digital and cold in comparison to what comes before) - it’s as if they’re playing it too safe. Because ‘You’ll Pay’, ‘Read Em And Weep’, ‘Only Love’, ‘Fever Tree’ (a charming cover of William Bell’s ‘I Forgot To Be Your Lover’), and ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ are all peppered with a shimmering strut, and the kind of euphoria that’s surely only a well-filmed choreo sequence away from the kind of virality enjoyed by Jungle of late. And this is a lane that fits The Black Keys like a glove.

Tags: The Black Keys, Reviews, Album Reviews

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