When I first heard of this band, I took an instant dislike to them. This might be a strange way to start a blog, but I need to set out the picture here. The idea of another garage rock duo like The White Stripes just filled me with dread and my first exposure to them with 'Brother' just did nothing for me. It felt like hipster bullshit and I turned my nose up at them even quicker than a Conservative UK government try to wreck the country and destroy the North. So it was with a heavy heart and many misgivings that I agreed to review this album, the first one that they released back in 2002. Admittedly by the time I have wrote this I have listened to this album many times. To be honest I have listened to it more than I usually do just because I have been struggling with this more than I have with most of the other blogs that I have done.
This album could not be further away from the band that made 'Brother' if it tried. I know the band progresses from A to B, but this album is some simplistic and honest in its delivery it is unreal. How did the band which made this album progress to make the other one is beyond me. This album is blues music done simple, not perfect - they are nowhere near perfect, but done with such a passion it is erases all the other stuff I had hear from them before. This came as a very big surprise for me and made me think my initial opinion of the band was misplaced. So onwards I plod with a massive piece of humble pie for my crimes.
Starting off with the understated "Busted" this album takes a while to flex its muscles. It is a slow building stomp (don't understand how that happens, but this album is full of it and it works so well). Following on with "Do The Rump" and "I'll Be Your Man" (the album's masterpiece) the album starts to get in its stride. This album rarely goes for frantic, but when it does play out (such as on "Breaks") it is to great effect. The slow pacing of this album the cornerstone of the work and for me it makes smile throughout. When blues music is done right, it makes the world a better place. By the time the album heads for "Yearnin'" and "Brooklyn Bound", it is obvious that this labour of love is one of the great albums of 2002, and it is a refreshing find for 2013 as well.
If there is a problem with this album it is that it is a little bit same-y, but when something is as good as this it is one of the smaller details on which to fixate to be honest. This album has made me a believer in the band, it is one of the most fantastic debut album I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Now for that piece of humble pie that I mentioned earlier......
7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check
You can purchase the album from Amazon here
You can visit The Black Keys website here
You can listen to the album here on Spotify here
Here is a live version of "I'll Be Your Man"