Dropout Boogie

The Black Keys

Nonesuch, 2022


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


The band’s 11th album, Dropout Boogie finds the Black Keys continuing their late-season surge of making short, punchy blues albums that hearken back to their roots.

Following in short order 2019’s Let’s Rock and the 2021 covers disc Delta Kream, this new disc is another 10 quick blasts of blues-rock, meant to be played at a local bar or festival, with a good beer and some BBQ nearby. It’s only 34 minutes and features a guest appearance from ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons, who came by the studio to hang out and wound up getting roped into playing on “Good Love.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Nobody has a guitar tone quite like Dan Auerbach, so if this album doesn’t break any new ground, it’s still clearly a Black Keys disc, and fans of the older period of the band (pre-Brothers) will find plenty to love here. The album feels both timeless and effortless; songs like “For the Love of Money” sound like they were written in the South seven decades ago, while “Baby I’m Coming Home” shamelessly rewrites the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider.”

That sense of immediacy is bracing but also ephemeral; you’re not likely to remember these standard blues-rockers, nor will they become an integral part of the Keys’ story. It’s possible some of the tracks could get play on TV shows and commercials (opening cut and leadoff single “Wild Child,” the sports drawl of “Your Team is Looking Good”), but most of the others fade like a good night at the bar.

“For the Love of Money” is probably the standout track, as is Gibbons’ solo on “Good Love” and the closing jam “Didn’t I Love You,” which locks into its groove (Pat Carney, always a standout) and a fiery solo; one imagines it could turn into a mean track onstage, but here it just sort of peters out after four too-short minutes. There’s little mention of the band’s brief psychedelic era in 2014 (pre-hiatus), with only “How Long” bringing back memories of Turn Blue.

So Dropout Boogie ends up being another Black Keys album, not in line with their best work, but definitely in the spirit of their earlier albums. If you prefer your Keys unfussy and happy to make the music they love, or if you like blues-rock with distorted guitars, this is the one for you.

Rating: B

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