Capsule Review: Attack and Release (The Black Keys)

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April 8, 2008

9:25 AM

There’s a whole lot about the blues that’s slow, alright ­— but that doesn’t mean the blues should be boring. The Black Keys’ latest release, “Attack and Release,” manages just that, however, gracefully slapping together some of the most tapped-out, boring blues-rock sounds you could ask for.

p. A shining example of such boring slowness is the song “Same Old Thing.” Boring-as-hell name aside, the track produces nothing more than the formulaic approach you’ll find rampant throughout the album — almost-gutsy electric blues a la Clapton and the Rolling Stones, overlaid by the repetitive, aimless coos of vocalist Dan Auerbach.

p. Then there’s either some fat organ chords or a half-assed guitar solo to fill in the blanks — or both, with tracks like “All You Ever Wanted”.

p. Sure, the album is peppered with jazzy woodwind vibes and Patrick Carney’s punchy, never-tasteless drumming; the duo obviously took the time to add a little spice. And there are some nice moments — whether it’s Auerbach’s moody, colorful lyrics (“Flap my wings, oh yeah / and set your heart to fly”), or the raunchy, Led Zeppelin-grind of his electric.

p. It’s like the duo never settled on one musical direction, instead sputtering out on a sappy mix of blues throwbacks and indie-rock sensibilities. Maybe that’s the risk you take when you employ a producer as ambitious as Danger Mouse alongside innovation busters like Aurbach and Carney.

p. At the end of the day, “Attack and Release” is an all-around snoozer. Spend your money on something worthwhile. Like a cheeseburger.

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