the black keys – brothers

there’s something about this album that made me think my mum would love it. don’t get me wrong, i like it in spite of my conclusions below. there’s just something you need to know about my mum.

see, i grew up with the pervasive sounds of the doors, led zeppelin, the jimi hendrix experience, the rolling stones, the yardbirds, the bluesbreakers, the band, the allman brothers. all played through records – that’s vinyl (yes, i’m waiting for the olds to kick on to inherit that particular collection). it’s the medium that people of my age were reared on before ditching the old generation for compact discs (via the fiddly irritation of cassettes). what rebels we were.

this type of music was mum’s second-wave of appreciation in her twenties after her teens were spent giving the beatles toy koalas and organising the twilights and australian small faces fan clubs with her two sisters. she kept pace with standout music until the 1980s or thereabouts, though there are still a few things in my collection that draw on her less extensive forays into recent music. it’s safe to say that i look to mum as the critical figure in my music appreciation/development. i always knew she was cool.

it has to be said that here is a very obvious current of selling out. i can’t watch the very small amount of commercial television that i do without hearing an extended intro version of howlin’ for you on an insurance ad. i know this is a recognised and accepted feature of the black keys. if you’re cool enough, you know it (even though both the ad and the band are ubiquitous) – that means you’re going to buy the product. payola for hipsters. i don’t know if they don’t know, or simply don’t care; because these days the lines become increasingly blurred. though true hipsters probably gave up on the black keys about a year after they formed.

anyway, this being their second to last release to date, i recall talking to a friend (who’s more of a preppy), and i believe we agreed that the mid-section of this album is quite weak. in fact, while there are quite a few notable moments across the long span of the album (in a weird way, the near avalanches sound of never gonna give you up, which isn’t even their song), it doesn’t last. it’s hard to describe that sensation. it’s as though the album doesn’t have staying power somehow. that’s in spite of its catchiness.

it was my last and only foray into a form of modern nostalgic rock that satiated what little interest i actually had (realisation in hindsight, but not regret). mum didn’t mind it; i bought the follow-up begrudgingly.

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