I’m not one to grab some cardboard (or wood), paint words of the apocalypse being nigh and strap it onto my body to enlighten the world of impending doom. That aside, a couple friends and I were discussing The Black Keys and the explosive success they’ve seen with their most recent studio release, Brothers, and how it might impact their future — or perhaps more importantly, our future as fans. As I’ve said before — numerous times — I’m an unbridled fan of the Keys, but when you start hearing their music in television commercials and they win an MTV Breakthrough Video VMA for Tighten Up*, I get a little nervous; my friends were voicing the same anxiety. (I will admit I quite enjoy the video for Tighten Up. A nice bit of humour, that.)
The three of us — my friends and I — all hopped on the Keys bandwagon at different times, but we all shared an avid fandom of their work to date. We also all shared the fear that this was the high water mark of The Black Keys, the spot where the wave broke and turned back to the ocean (or however H.S. Thompson puts it). Obviously, there are enough examples of bands that go on to try and recreate the success of a particular album, producing mediocre familiarity; or those that find a comfortable groove of formulaic songwriting; or those that give in to pressure from The Suits and produce pretty much whatever they’re told. For now, I’m going to remain optimistic as their existing discography varies quite widely in numerous aspects; we may see another side project release before we know it.
* Another point of optimism is that MTV fucked up the award and had it engraved to The Black Eyed Peas. In a brief, but humorous response, Keys drummer Patrick Carney said, “It’s fitting for us that when we win our first award it’s mislabeled. Hopefully we win their Grammy as well one day! We actually don’t give a shit about this, though. It’s funny.”