The Black Keys
Rubber Factory
/fat possum; 2004/


Anyone who hasn’t heard The Black Keys before will know from the very first few seconds of this album that they are a rock and roll band in the most purest sense of the word. Again we have only the guitar and drums big-crunch combo like so many others out there on the blues revival playing field, but where the others are trying really fucking hard to nip every aspect of the niche right in the butt, The Black Keys aren’t even aware they’re playing a game. Rubber Factory is a genuine, stomping good time, while the band throws nary a backwards glance to see if they’re doing everything just right. It just is, and that’s the way it’s been since their beginnings (from The Big Come Up through to Thickfreakness). Rubber Factory compromises nothing, while continuing to develop the bands identity as supreme owners of everything rock and roll.

“When the Lights Go Out” always puts a smile on my face every time I hear it, not just because it’s a slow burn dive into old jukeboxes, factories and dirty bars but because it signals that the next forty or so minutes are going to be radically pure and honest rock. “10 A.M. Automatic” is searing in its intense heat and crunchy guitar, rolling along with an incredible swank backed by solid percussion. When the solo at the end kicks in, I can’t help but get up, purse my lips and air guitar my silly ass all around the room. This album inspires motion as much as any post-punk dance act, albeit in a different strain. And with the affluence of keyboard mongers out there, this vein comes as a welcome relief.

Although there is more than enough Rock on this disc there are also some truly wonderful, introspective moments. “The Lengths” is a melancholic tear jerker if I’ve ever heard one, its twang and the starry countryside nights that it evokes are the very definition of world weary, human longing. Dan Auerbach’s voice sounds both plaintive and restrained at the same time, neutralizing any threat of emotional outburst. A lovely moment on a record that is packed with blazing hooks and distortion.

Rubber Factory is all about sound -- the sound and pomp of ballsy rock and roll, the fuzz of the instruments, the vocals dripping in a blues rock swagger. Heck no you’re not going to find ethereal lyrics in music like this (not often, anyway). But that’s not the point. This is honest music that wrings every last ounce of beauty/excitement from a genre that has long since departed. The Black Keys should be commended for the integrity in which they've resurrected the beast. Whereas other hopefuls have gone on to pull incredible swan dives (such as Elephant...shame) Rubber Factory continues the bands tradition of authenticity and quality rock. In the musical landscape of today, replete with ten minute schizo epics, bands with more members than their families and creepy assed folk, it’s nice to feel the roaring power of simplicity.

- Andrew Iliadis

/feb 15th 2005/