The Black Keys
Attack & Release
Verdict: (Spruce Lee never writes verdicts)
I have been sitting on this review for a while now, and I’m actually glad I haven’t put thoughts to paper until now. In the intervening time between getting the album and writing this review I have had ample opportunity to listen, and I did listen. However, it was never quality time listening. I would try and listen, but every time I did, something would come up. I would end up making a phone call, begin studying for finals, or start watching American Idol, and before I knew it the album had finished playing and I had hardly heard a note. At first I chalked up my disinterest in the fact that Attack & Release just didn’t have the gems of The Black Keys previous efforts. There was no attention grabbing song like Rubber Factory’s ‘The Lengths’, it didn’t have the gritty consistency of Thickfreakness, and even lacked some of the bluesyness that had endeared the band to me on their initial release, The Big Come Up. And in spite of all this, I just realized how good Attack & Release is. Regrettably, The Black Keys seem unavoidably linked with The White Stripes as the driving forces in modern blues rock. And with the commercial success of recent White Stripes outings, The Black Keys will likely continue to play second fiddle. However, with The White Stripes going the way of Weezer, with their Beverly Hills anthem rock crap I would suggest to the world that The Black Keys should be playing second fiddle to no one, least of all The White Stripes. (Also, if albums were people and could get in the ring and settle all the comparisons through physical combat, there is no doubt that Attack & Release would destroy Icky Thump). Sorry for that rant. If you’re still reading I’ll get to the point. Compared to previous Black Keys albums, Attack and Release is less bluesy, but more gypsy. It is less gritty, but more seductive. It’s not a huge departure, but enough show that The Black Keys can successfully shift gears, and won’t resign themselves to just rehash the same old blues no matter how successful they have been doing it.