The Black Keys’ ‘Dropout Boogie’ falls flat

Alex Fisch

The Black Keys consists of lead vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney (Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The Black Keys have long been staples of the alternative rock scene. Their unique sound, a combination of blues rock and lofi, has won over thousands of fans in the alt-rock community. Some of their greatest hits, such as “Lonely Boy” and “Tighten Up,” have made numerous appearances in the Billboard Top 10, with the former being a recipient of three grammy awards. Their latest album, “Dropout Boogie,” was released on May 13 of this year. It was produced by Angelo Petraglia, who has worked with the likes of Greg Cartwright and Kings of Leon. It contains 11 total tracks, including the two singles “Wild Child” and “It Ain’t Over.”

From the outset, the band makes it immediately clear that they intend to stick to their distinct sound. Their opening track, “Wild Child,” relies on a bluegrass rock guitar riff, catchy vocals and solid chorus for a rather upbeat and energetic tune that we’ve come to expect from the Black Keys at this point in their career. This was the perfect track to open the album, as it captures the listener from the opening guitar riff to the outro. Unfortunately, this was where the album peaked. The energy from the opening track immediately faded into oblivion with the next track, “It Aint Over.” It sounded less like a Black Keyes song and more like a subpar Cage the Elephant song. Its abrupt transition into the chorus is incredibly distracting and completely messes up the song’s tempo. It seemed as if there was not that much effort put into the song’s structure. “For the Love of Money” is a solid redemption track with a funkier guitar riff that the band pulls out of their bag of tricks every once in a while. Still, it’s not able to reach the heights of the first track, and is lacking in a powerful chorus. Some of the next few tracks, including “Your Team is Looking Good,” “Good Love (Featuring Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top)” and “Burn the Damn Thing Down” had the typical guitar riffs and solos, but that’s about it. The vocals were lacking in character, the melody was rather forgettable, and neither track was able to serve as the pick-me-up that they should have. The album plateaus at the sixth track, “How Long,” which is a three minute and 21 second snoozefest. It’s understandable that they were going for a more slow burn approach, but the song just felt like it dragged on with no attempts to hook the listener. 

The last three tracks unfortunately do not offer much to salvage the album. While they’re not necessarily bad songs, they rely on what seems to be the same blues guitar riffs and solos. They don’t bring any uniqueness to the album, instead only offering the same lackluster effort. 

This album is not necessarily atrocious in any way, but it leaves the listener wanting more, especially with a band as talented and as decorated as the Black Keys. Listeners should make sure to check out the opening track, and maybe the third as well. Other than that, “Dropout Boogie” largely falls flat.