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Music Reviews

MPAA Rating
El Camino
Rock, Alternative
Topped Billboard's rock chart.
Record Label
August 30, 2011
Adam R. Holz
The Black Keys

The Black Keys

"Lonely Boy"

At some point in our lives, most of us have pined away for someone who, deep down, we knew would never reciprocate our everlasting affection. But lest we too quickly curse the curse of unrequited love, think of all the music that would not have been made but for this nearly universal experience of unfulfilled longing.

Music like The Black Keys' latest fuzzed-out hit "Lonely Boy," the first single from the band's seventh album, El Camino.

Sounding a bit like the alternate-universe offspring of early ZZ Top and one of those British Invasion acts, the song laments a lass whose emotional baggage keeps her from responding to a man's longsuffering love for her. "I came to love you," he confesses early on. But it's for naught, apparently, since he concludes, "You pulled my heart out." That has more to do with her broken family than it does him. At least that's what he tells himself: "Well, your mama kept you/But your daddy left you/And I shoulda done you just the same."

Against his better judgment, he doesn't do her as her daddy did. And that can be a good thing, of course. But his only reward for his effort? A bloodied heart ("I came to love you/Am I going to bleed?") as he waits—probably forever—for her to come around ("I got a love that keeps me waiting, keeps me waiting").

In the end, as has been true since the dawn of time (or at least since the dawn of pop music in the 1950s), his sole solace as he shuffles down Rejection Avenue is self-pity: "I'm a lonely boy, I'm a lonely boy," the chorus repeats. Unlike some deadly earnest odes to rejection The Black Keys' effervescent wink at getting shot down doesn't take itself too seriously—especially in the song's made-for-YouTube video. The entirety of the video features a nondescript, middle-aged man in dress slacks and shirt shimmying this way and that as he lip-synchs the song's lyrics.

It's a video that easily could have been done in one take from someone's camera phone—a hipster-approved, low-fi effort that meshes perfectly with the band's hipster-approved, low-fi sound. And, in that, it inspires no criticism from me.