wed 22/05/2024

Album: The Black Keys - Ohio Players | reviews, news & interviews

Album: The Black Keys - Ohio Players

Album: The Black Keys - Ohio Players

A safe, contained album from a band that made its mark with searing blues rock

Ultimately unfulfilling: The Black Keys' new album 'Ohio Players'

It’s been a winding road to album number 12 for blues rock duo Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, better known as The Black Keys.

Albums one to five – from debut The Big Come Up to 2008’s Attack & Releaseall played in a modern, blues rock wheelhouse. Then everything changed as they exploded into the mainstream with the quickfire releases of Brothers and El Camino.  

Since their meteoric rise, heralded by tracks like “Howlin For You” and “Lonely Boy”, the duo has somewhat meandered through. The following albums Turn Blue, Let’s Rock, and Dropout Boogie all fell short of their early peak. But the thing about The Black Keys is that the promise of new releases is never far away.  

For Ohio Players Auerbach and Carney have thrown open the studio doors and invited a small cast of other artists to collaborate. Ranging from Beck and pop-producer extraordinaire Greg Kurstin, to rappers Juicy J and Lil Noid, this is a small but substantial change for the Keys, as previously they have self-produced or worked with longtime collaborator/producer Danger Mouse. 

Opener “This Is Nowhere” establishes that this will be somewhere more in the vein of Brothers with a plump, funky bass riff. The groove in their step carries through "Don't Let Me Go" and lead single "Beautiful People (Stay High)", putting a soulful glaze over the mainstream flourishes Auerbach and Carney have honed and played with since "Tighten Up". 

The guest cast leaves an impression with "Candy and Her Friends" and “Paper Crown”. Both are moody tunes with rap features; an interesting pivot from the glossy rock beforehand. Meanwhile, “Please Me (Till I’m Satisified)” and “Live Till I Die” will satisfy the longtime Keys fans, as the former throws back to their earlier days with fuzzed guitars galore, and the latter a straight up rock jaunt. 

Overall, Ohio Players pleases without being fulfilling. Its listenable sheen and guest features help it be more consistent than the Ohio duo’s previous efforts while the varied percussion throughout adds subtle, different textures. But ultimately, it’s still too safe and contained for a band who made their mark by melding searing blues rock with melody and songwriting nous. 

Auerbach and Carney have thrown open the studio doors and invited a small cast of other artists to collaborate


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters