Just as they’ve done throughout their solid career, The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney wrote all of the material for their new album, Dropout Boogie. The album greatly resembles the bare-bones blues rock of their early albums, the first of which was released a full 20 years ago.
The 10 songs on this album are as gritty as the rust belt area that the duo were raised in. These Ohio natives, have written some powerful songs, a few of which can be interpreted as a gut-punch to the manufacturing greed and subsequent decline of this industrial region. I don’t know if this was their intent, but it immediately rang true to me as I listened.
The stylish strut of the opening song “Wild Child” and the following track “It Ain’t Over” move along with a stripped-down simplicity unlike anything in their recent catalog.
The third track, “For the Love of Money”, is one of those rust belt songs. Consider these lyrics, “We got fooled with riches, getting fat on lies. Nothing but trouble here in paradise”. This is the funky 2022 version of Billy Joel’s 1982 “Allentown” or Mellencamp’s 1985 “Rain on the Scarecrow”. Wealth and avarice at the expense of the working class is a timeless topic.
On the track, “Good Love”, ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons helped give the album’s mid-point a shot of adrenaline, with his guitar wailing over a thick bass line.
The stylish guitar work in “Baby I’m Coming Home,” will be familiar-sounding to many Black Keys fans. The music is superbly grounded by the riffs, but happy to venture into the spaces between. It all sounds real, spontaneous, dirty, sexy, and without any frills. It’s somehow basic and complex at the same time.
The albums El Camino and Brothers remains Auerbach and Carney’s best work, but this brief respite (34 minutes), is a formidable addition to a solid body of work. Add it to your library today!