Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

The Black Keys – Lonely Boy

Do the Carlton!


Anthony Easton: It’s funny that the Black Keys claim never to listen to any blues music, because this is as blues as it could be possible be, with a tiny bit of very early honkytonk. I mean it’s not really good rock and roll, mostly the primitivism of Jack White with none of the ingrained history, or skill, but it’s competent at goals implied but not stated.

John Seroff: There’s something about the music video to “Lonely Boy” that crystallized not only my lack of interest in this song but for The Black Keys in general. Much like the dancer in the video, the band doggedly adheres to formula way too hard for way too long with minimal and generally diminishing returns. This is why I still have a healthy reverence for The White Stripes: it’s hard as hell to pull the gutbucket blues rock schtick off in the 21st century without sounding like twice-warmed brown gravy over bad biscuits.

Brad Shoup: I have faith in Dan Auerbach’s ability to summon an organ from his guitar — he’s done it before. So it was a little disheartening the first time I heard “Lonely Boy,” with Danger Mouse’s chintzy retro organ smarming things up, to say nothing of the backing singers. It’s a fuzzy, chugging smash for them, sure, and the ancillary shit shouldn’t bug me, but when you hold such a lean aesthetic, the details jump out. I’m trying real hard to focus on Pat Carney’s paddling snare instead.

Alfred Soto: For these guys, more is more: Joy Division snares, stegosaurus licks, organ, massed chorus, old black guy doing a minstrel show in the video for the white kids constituting most of The Black Keys’ fans. It’s as if they accepted they have nothing to say so they’ll indenture all the “-isms” they can.

Iain Mew: Retro blues rock isn’t a sound I care particularly strongly enough either way. This could do with being either shinier (more of the organ near the start!) or scratchier, rather than mired between the two as it is, but it’s only the lyrics which actually make it distasteful. “Well I’m so above you/And it’s plain to see/But I came to love you anyway”. How kind of you!

Michaela Drapes: I guess I wasn’t paying attention — the Black Keys’ last three albums were produced by DangerMouse, which certainly explains why the band I knew as some skeevy dudes who played pretty decent swamp rock are now cranking out licensing-friendly retro jams by the yard and selling out Madison Square Garden in 15 minutes. My comment here is the same thing I say about anything touched by DangerMouse, really: the music sounds gorgeous and oozes authenticity, but beneath that perfectly composed glossy shell, it’s completely hollow and dead inside.

Doug Robertson: What’s the point?

4 Responses to “The Black Keys – Lonely Boy”

  1. I think I needed scare quotes around “gorgeous” and “authenticity”.


  3. For a minute I was expecting that to be a photo of Alan Keyes.

  4. They released an EP of Junior Kimbrough covers, so I’m pretty sure they’ve listened to some blues music. Whether or not it was worthwhile is another matter entirely.