The Black Keys - 'Dropout Boogie'

6/10

With this being the same week in which The Black Keys released their breakthrough debut album 'The Big Come Up' twenty years ago, it is fair to say that their journey since then has been a turbulent one. Despite arriving with little fanfare compared to countless others in their field, they finally began to see worldwide fame with a flurry of hit records as we entered the 2010s, including 'Attack & Release', 'Brothers' and 'El Camino'. But since then the duo have found it difficult to keep their heads above water, returning with their eleventh studio album 'Dropout Boogie', a collection that sees them stick to their chosen path no matter what.

While there can always be merit in sticking to your guns throughout thick and thin, in the case of The Black Keys, they have largely struggled to bring that bold and intense feel back to their causal blues-rock sound. Thankfully 'Dropout Boogie' manages to find a wisp of freshness to their direction, giving this new release something to bring it to life in places. Even with the notable inclusion of ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on the top-tapping 'Good Love', it still feels like The Black Keys are chasing their formative tails, ever reaching for that broad and engaging atmosphere once again.

There are the occasional moments of brilliance on 'Dropout Boogie', but it largely just trundles along without making too much of a fuss. It is clear that they have reverted back to the smoother and more heartfelt side of their aesthetic in recent years, but with such a legacy behind them, this one has trouble finding its feet.

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