After a five-year hiatus, The Black Keys are back. The release of the duo’s newest single, “Lo/Hi,” last Friday reminded everyone what the genre had been missing over the past few years. The band reconnected with the same electrifying sound that rocketed it to stardom years ago, and fans should be happy to finally hear their 60s-influenced brand of blues rock again.
Many artists feel the need to resurface in the industry with an uncharacteristic sound that can come off as shocking. From Miley Cyrus to Madonna, it is not uncommon for artists to reignite their careers by totally altering their image, attempting to attract attention. The Keys, luckily, are not following this trend.
They didn’t come back with a powerful, attention-grabbing song designed to top the charts. Breaking a half-decade hiatus was shocking enough for them, so they decided to stick to the sound that made them innovators in their genre and lead a charge of new-age rock just after the turn of the century.
It’s unclear why The Black Keys took a break. The bandmates followed through on promises they made on their last album’s final track, “Gotta Get Away,” disappearing to create solo projects and dabble in production. To pass the time, the Keys’ drummer, Patrick Carney, actually helped create the BoJack Horseman theme song.
Now, the release of “Lo/Hi” feels fairly random and unexpected. However, there is nothing unusual about the band’s signature guitar and drum beat, featured again on the track.
Dan Auerbach’s rumbling voice is louder than ever but not without a twist. This time, female vocalists — whose powerful notes certainly cannot be missed — buoy him. They channel gospel music, supporting a fusion of Southern rock and the trippy sound by creating their own unique mood to strongly support the duo. Their promising new addition will hopefully appear on tracks in the future as the Keys continue to add to their blend of musical influences.
Auerbach sings about loneliness — and habits of getting high — when hitting life’s lowest points. This concept certainly isn’t new to The Black Keys, and “Lo/Hi” is by no means an innovator lyrically. Importance is simply placed on truly listening to the music.
What does the release of this new single means for the band? Despite the randomness, music industry patterns indicate that the release of a single in this manner could prelude a new album. As excitement for The Black Keys’ future remains, “Lo/Hi” reminds listeners of just how good the Ohio-native rockers are.
Following up their Grammy-nominated album Turn Blue would be difficult, but they have managed to reignite the excitement that stemmed from their hits like “Tighten Up,” “Lonely Boy” and “Howlin’ For You.” As they instigated a blues rock revival years ago, listeners are eager to see how they shake up their genre again soon.