Though lacking the immediacy of previous work from the Keys, Brothers is indeed a fine album. Not a flawless effort from the two but still a pretty damn great piece of work.
The choice of ‘Tighten Up’ as the first single released is understandable yet flawed due to the sheer quality of other offerings throughout the track listing. Though calling home to perhaps the catchiest melodic offerings, ‘Tighten Up’ is trumped by album opener ‘Everlasting Light’ which channels Spoon at it’s grooviest. Add some doo-wop styled “shoo wahhhh” backing vocals from previous Keys collaborator Nicole Wray and driving fuzzed up guitar work from Dan Auerbach and this is a great stand alone piece of work from the Keys.
The sentiments shared in the chorus of ‘Next Girl’ are the most insightful I’ve ever heard the Keys be: “Oh my next girl, will be nothing like my ex-girl, I made mistakes back then, I’ll never do it again.”
‘Howlin’ For You’ recalls KLF’s ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis’ in its rhythmic backing and is another fine track. The Keys explore tangents of psych-rock on the instrumental ‘Black Mud’ and baroque pop meets Detroit proto-punk on ‘Too Afraid To Love You’. Obvious references to the influence of the soul of pioneers like Bobby Womack appear in ‘I’m Not The One’ and the compellingly arranged Isaac Hayes cover ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. The snakes-and-ladders and guitar work of Auerbach on ‘Unknown Brother’ allows the song to stand out as one of the greatest from the album and closer ‘These Days’ recalls the country twang of Ryan Adams and Cass McCombs at their best.
Being a little overly long for this type of two-piece outfit, Brothers suffers from the slightest of lulls in the middle but still remains the most eclectic, inspired and by leaps and bounds the straight up grooviest work from the Keys since Rubber Factory. Brothers is well worth a listen; appreciate the diversity offered from two guys without the bells and whistles of a full band to play off whilst you do.