Album of the Week: Black Keys, “Let’s Rock”

Yep, that’s an electric chair. The title comes from a condemned inmate’s supposed last words.

The Black Keys’ latest release (their first in five years) ought to win the “Truth in Advertising” award. (If there isn’t such an award, there should be.) ”Let’s Rock” captures precisely what you’re going to hear here. To which I say, “Hear hear!”

If you want to experience anything other than guitar, bass and drums (and handclaps, of course), then this isn’t the record for you. If you like keyboards, for example, hit “next.” This is rock ‘n’ roll in its simplest and rawest form, 12 tunes covering only 38 minutes, no fluff, no guff. Patrick Carney called it “an homage to the electric guitar” and I’d agree. This isn’t electric guitar in the sense of guitar heroes like Clapton or Hendrix. This is electric guitar as the crunchy, fuzzy musical backbone, rhythmic riffs rather than dramatic solos.

“Lo/Hi,” for example, is driven by a riff out of mid-period ZZ Top. “Every Little Thing” starts with a burst of feedback before moving into George Harrison territory. “Get Yourself Together” is the catchiest tune on the album, with a shuffling beat and all-time chorus.

Is this the most creative album of all time? Of course not. That’s not the point. The point is to show that rock ‘n’ roll still lives in a world of processors, Auto-Tune, corporate songwriting, and produce-by-numbers.

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