is the second album from the acclaimed guitar and drum, delta blues-infused rock duo from Akron, Ohio, The Black Keys. Their first release, Thickfreakness
, was a massive hit in the UK and got great reviews in the music press.
Opening with the slide guitar-driven "When the Lights Go Out", Rubber Factory
starts as it means to go on this is blues that sticks to its guns and does a damn fine job of it. And there's more to recommend it than simply the lovely lo-fi production (Jack White eat yer heart out) there's conviction in the performance and strong songs to back it up. In a genre that, these days, has a tendency to slip into dreary cliché, The Black Keys
should be applauded for keeping things interesting.
So this is a blues album to dress it up as anything else would be to miss its point. But that shouldn't put off the casual listener. As well as the more trad-sounding opener, and tracks such as "Stack Shot Billy" (whose guitar wouldn't sound out of place on a John Lee Hooker record), you get the beautiful, mournful "The Lengths" and rockers such as "All Hands Against His Own" and the album's rousing closer, "Till I Get My Way". All in all, proof that the blues can still be relevant today, even if a sizeable proportion of its originators are now no longer with us. --Marc Bloomfield