The blues take a back seat on The Black Keys' sixth record, Brothers, and the results are impressive. The two-man band from Akron, Ohio, has mostly dispensed with the dirty, garage-blues riffage that made them famous, turning to down-home glam before easing into a lonely soul vibe that finally gives singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach's voice the showcase it deserves. Sounding like a Midwestern Van Morrison, especially on tracks such as "Too Afraid to Love You" and "The Go Getter," Auerbach's expanded range (he even sings falsetto on the album-opening T. Rex nod "Everlasting Light") colors his laments like nothing else on previous Black Keys records. Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney made the correct choice by recording the bulk of Brothers at Alabama's famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, because the soulful but dark groove that propels this record suits them. It's as if Auerbach and Carney's native Rust Belt were just a way station en route to their music's rightful home in the South.
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