Dropout Boogie by The Black Keys Album Review by Robert Duguay for Northern Transmissions

Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch Records

8

The Black Keys

Drop Out Boogie

With a sound that’s consistently rooted in electric blues, The Black Keys have always pushed this timeless style in different directions. Most of the time their approach has worked, even though sometimes it hasn’t. For example, I still think 2014’s Turn Blue is relatively unexciting even though it reached the Top 10 in numerous charts around the world. I’ll let that record be the outlier though, because their 11th studio album Dropout Boogie that came out via both Easy Eye Sound and Nonesuch Records on May 13 is excellent. It seems to be a culmination of techniques and elements that guitarist & vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney have used in prior releases with the result being stunningly fresh.

There’s a groovy blend of funk, delta blues, soul and straight up rock present within the new release. The production, which was handled by both Auerbach and Carney, is fantastic as well with a little bit of polish while the rawness of the guitar is made evident. There are noticeable bits and pieces from the rest of their discography that are incorporated into this one. It's like the glam rock of 2011’s El Camino, some of the psychedelic vibe from 2008’s Attack & Release and the straight forwardness of 2019’s Let’s Rock all fused together. It might sound strange to go back in the past to analyze the present, but when I say that Dropout Boogie sounds like a culmination this is what I’m talking about.

That funkiness is present within both “Wild Child” and “It Ain’t Over”, especially with how Auerbach’s guitar starts off both tracks. They both have stellar harmonies within the chorus as well and it’s interesting how they kick off the album in back-to-back fashion. “Good Love” harks back to the band’s blues roots while being very reminiscent of the duo’s earlier material that was recorded in Carney’s old basement back in Akron, Ohio. Bringing those raw riffs is “Burn The Damn Thing Down” and the same can be said for “Baby I’m Coming Home” and “Didn’t I Love You”. There’s a sonic variety within the album where each song has its own special quality and
it makes for an enjoyable listening experience.

I’ve been a fan of The Black Keys since I heard their debut album The Big Come Up during my college radio days in the mid-2000s. In fact, I still have it on purple vinyl hanging around somewhere in storage. Going from that time to now, there’s been a substantial progression as with any established act. What I appreciate about both Auerbach and Carney these days is how they walk the path of trying out new ideas while maintaining their artistic foundation, which can be a hard thing to do. That’s why Dropout Boogie is a great record and I definitely recommend pressing that play button and diving into it.

order Drop Out Boogie by The Black Keys HERE