Sometimes an album just names itself. “We were in the studio and reading the local news in Nashville,” The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. “They executed the first prisoner in 16 years in Nashville the week we were recording. They asked for his final words and he said, ‘Let’s rock.’”
There isn’t a lot of overthinking on The Black Keys’ first new record in five years. It’s the sound of the duo kicking out the jams in Nashville. Topics of escape and confusion are seeded in Auerbach’s dueling guitar overlays and propped up by Patrick Carney’s steady hands. Songs recall the joy of traveling up and down a transistor radio dial in the ’70s; there are nods to Stealers Wheel (“Sit Around and Miss You”) and The Amboy Dukes (“Every Little Thing”), as well as dips into glam and Texas boogie-woogie. Carney digs for “When the Levee Breaks” bedrock on “Go.” Then “Lo/Hi,” “Fire Walk With Me,” and “Get Yourself Together” are classic Black Keys, complete with strutting backbeat and Leisa Hans and Ashley Wilcoxson’s backup vocals, which are so key to their chemistry and continuity.