The Black Keys’, ‘El Camino,’ Wails and Rocks – Album Review



Review by Anne Erickson

The Black Keys’ latest LP picks up on the retro-soul feel of 2010’s Brothers

To peg the Black Keys as just another blues-rock duo is far too simplistic. Guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney are their own well-defined thing– a rowdy, raw and rollicking band with a classicist approach to their rock. Hailing from the Midwest, the Black Keys have built a following on mixing their unique brand of wailing rock with the expert production of Danger Mouse. The result is certainly nothing like anything before it– and it’s not a knock-off of the White Stripes, either.

El Camino, the Black Keys’ latest full-length, picks up on the retro-soul feel of 2010’s Brothers, with tracks that sound like they were recorded 50 years prior. Of course, buried in that nostalgic sound is a modern spirit, with Danger Mouse adding his sparkly touch to the duo’s solid songwriting. Danger Mouse adds layers of quirky instruments and sounds to Auerback and Carney’s creations: fuzz guitars, backing singers, tambourines, handclaps, organs. The sound is big without losing the character of two guys, simply rocking out in a garage somewhere in the Midwest.

Those with a short attention span won’t have anything to complain about on, El Camino. Taking cues from punk, every one of the set’s 11 tracks chimes in at less than four minutes, making listening to the collection in one sitting a gush of rock ‘n’ roll that whips through like a blustering musical tornado. From the swift groove of “Money Maker” to the rye roar of lead single “Lonely Boy,” it’s near-impossible to lose one’s interest barreling through these songs. With El Camino, the Black Keys have something to say and, more importantly, know how to say it, and that makes this a set that doesn’t tire, even spin after spin.

Ink Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Guitar Gauges