Attack & Release

  • Record Label: Nonesuch
  • Release Date: Apr 1, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. What’s most impressive about Attack & Release is how they’ve raised their vocal and compositional game in accord with the sonic enhancements, bringing an unexpected poignancy to their earthy funkiness. Every track is a stunner.
  2. The result is a flawless (post)modernisation of heartland rock that wears its lovelorn pessimism proudly on its ruffled sleeve.
  3. Filter
    Attack & Release is a great accomplishment for both The Black Keys and Danger Mouse, who have proven good things can not only last, but sometimes, actually get better. [Winter, 2008, p.91]
  4. Entertainment Weekly
    Somehow the quirks enhance the power of the desolation at the core, and prove that gut-grabbing and ear stroking needn't be mutually exclusive. [4 Apr 2008, p.61]
  5. Their soul is in no way hurt by the production but instead, this is one of those many times where Danger Mouse’s production has truly aided in creating a terrific album from start to finish.
  6. Clever but tasteful arrangements and an impeccable shine make songs like 'Same Old Thing' seem anything but.
  7. 80
    The Black Keys are on the cusp of greatness--Attack and Release, produced by Danger Mouse, takes them one step closer, but not quite over the edge.
  8. While the sound of this blues-rock duo has been fleshed out, none of its grit has been glossed.
  9. For the two Akronites, Attack & Release is a musical grand slam, and their career is one long winning streak.
  10. With its varied sound and newly expansive songwriting, "Attack & Release" is a bold but entirely fitting way for the Black Keys to prove they know more than one way to make a statement.
  11. After four self-produced albums, the Ohio-based duo enlists Gnarls Barkley's Danger Mouse to infuse their guitar-and-drums minimalism with a fuller roots-rock feel, and the results are fresh, intriguing, and often inspiring.
  12. Mojo
    Danger Mouse asked the pair to write songs for Ike Turner and ended up producing the best album of their career so far. [May 2008, p.111]
  13. 80
    From the tip to full metallic thrust, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney slap and caress romantic lyricism deep into the tunnels of harmonic structure, curried by Brian Burton’s (aka Dangermouse) rollicking production.
  14. Enter Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, the beat scientist behind Gnarls Barkley, whose shape-shifting production – from the swelling organ of moody opener 'All You Ever Wanted' to the backward guitar in the heavy blues of 'I Got Mine'--results in the Akron, Ohio, duo's most diverse and subtly psychedelic work to date (just check the flute solo on 'Same Old Thing').
  15. Maneuvering between the King of Rhythm's joie de vivre and their crestfallen, crossroads-blues heritage, Attack and Release subtly expands the Black Keys sound.
  16. 70
    Odd touches, from the choir that materializes halfway through 'I Got Mine' to the sonar ping keeping time in 'Oceans & Streams,' add texture yo these impressionistic tales of ramblin' and being done wrong, without ever sacrificing the Keys' raw power. [Apr 2008, p.76]
  17. Burton was drafted to produce the next album by the group from Akron, Ohio, and the result is the Keys' most multicolored set.
  18. 70
    Mostly the Keys just staple stuff to their good ol' R&B raunch and let 'er rip. [Apr 2008, p.92]
  19. In the end we’re left with a solid, sympathetically-performed record that only intermittently comes to life, which is either a subtle victory or a hollow triumph of taste over gutbucket soul, depending on which way you look at it.
  20. To be sure, it's an accomplishment and one that showcases the Black Keys' deepening skills but at times it's hard not to miss how the duo used to grab a listener by the neck and not let go.
  21. Danger Mouse hasn't commandeered his charges' muse and forced The Black Keys to change, simply encouraged them to co-operate and collaborate for the first time. Clearly, company becomes them.
  22. Vibe
    Five albums in, the Keys' reference points stay the same--Hendrix, Zeppelin, White Stripes--as their sound, now produced by Gnarls Barkley's Danger Mouse, grows even bigger. [May 2008, p.74]
  23. The bottom line is that most of the songs here do fit well within the framework of their blues-rock aesthetic, and that's what makes Attack work as a Black Keys album.
  24. Attack & Release falters on the rockers, which sound like the same old Keys, for better or worse. But when Danger Mouse coaxes out the band's soul side on the slow 'n' sexy 'All You Ever Wanted,' The Black Keys suddenly find a way around their self-imposed restrictions.
  25. As it is, it's an encouraging (re)start.
  26. Danger Mouse brings decent gifts: songs originally meant for Ike Turner; a shimmering sea of flutes, organs and sound effects; a spacious sound that gives a little shine to the rough.
  27. Wonderful as they are, imagining the 76-year-old “Rocket 88” creator singing the weary gospel of “Remember When (Side A)” or the reflective “Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be” makes Dan Auerbach’s vocals sound tragically demo-like.
  28. The title Attack & Release implies the best aspects of the Black Keys’ music, all sweat and hurt and sweat and ecstasy, but the album neither gives nor takes, neither emotional nor sweaty but still clammy-handed.
  29. Q Magazine
    Danger Mouse's effect is apparent, the sparse guitar-and-drums template fleshed out with organ and banjo. [May 2008, p.126]
  30. Magnet
    There's precious little invention at work on Attack And Release, and the stench of authenticity hangs heavy. [Summer 2008, p.98]
  31. There’s a fine line between blues authenticity and pub-rock tedium and, accordingly, Attack & Release often falls victim to parody.
  32. Under The Radar
    Diversifying their palette would seem like a good idea, but Attack & Release proves that the more straightforward the better. [Spring 2008, p.74]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 87 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. j30
    Nov 29, 2011
    Attack & Release, the 5th LP from blues rock duo, is the Black Keys big turning point in the sound and direction.
  2. Jul 6, 2013
    This whole album is generally more interesting than their previous effort "Magic Potion". The sound is fuller and more experimental.

    This whole album is generally more interesting than their previous effort "Magic Potion". The sound is fuller and more experimental.

    But all in all I just miss the urgent GUTPUNCH of their early records. There new sound strays from the blues and goes for more of a garage rock feel with ambient overtones which is way better than Magic Potions just garage rock sound.

    Like Magic Potion, there arent any tracks that grab you immediately but a couple songs are real strong. Highlights are:

    "Psychotic Girl" and "Things ain't Like they Used to Be" are solid.
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 14, 2011
    It's a decent attempt at evolving their sound after they took their gritty blues rock as far as they could in their previous albums, but thisIt's a decent attempt at evolving their sound after they took their gritty blues rock as far as they could in their previous albums, but this just misses as many times as it hits. It features a few great cuts like "I Got Mine," "Oceans and Streams," and "Remember When (Side B)," but the rest too often fail to impress or keep the listeners' attention ("Remember When (Side A)," "Same Old Thing"). After having heard the follow-up album Brothers, this seems weak by comparison. Full Review »