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'Brothers,' Black Keys

The duo sounds more like an orchestra on this extraordinary album.

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What gets me about these two-person bands — the White Stripes, Jucifer, Juanita & the Rabbit — is how big they can sound. And on their new album (the band’s sixth), the Black Keys don’t just sound big. They sound like a damn orchestra.

Brothers is a 15-track masterpiece — an album that secures Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney’s place in modern blues-rock, but one that also shows the band’s aptitude in a number of styles. Building on the hot-and-sweaty blues sound that initially impressed critics on Thickfreakness, the Black Keys add more rock, more gospel and some truly impassioned, painful and poetic lyrics here. Brothers is an album full of heart and swagger — one where risky moves (like the harpsichord-driven “Too Afraid to Love You,” or Auerbach’s falsetto on “Never Give You Up”) add emotion and honesty to the duo’s sound.

It’s an album that, like the band’s others, echoes and crackles like it was recorded in a basement. And that no-frills style only further proves how much noise these two people can make.

DOWNLOAD: “Sinister Kid”

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