The Black Keys: El Camino (Nonesuch) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Black Keys

El Camino


Dec 05, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach bum rush through El Camino like cats in heat, barely stopping to catch a breath. The high-octane guitar, organ, drums, and even bells and chimes all seem to move together, surging forward in adrenaline-riddled spurts. While the duo has always attributed their rhythmic focus to their mutual love for old hip-hop and R&B, these songs were dipped in pure rock’n'roll. “Money Maker” hearkens to the bluesy side, while “Little Black Submarines” slowly builds from an acoustic ballad à la Blitzen Trapper to fuzzy metal riffage. Album opener and first single, “Lonely Boy,” is the best of the bunch, a rollicking good time with raw edges. It’s as danceable as anything they’ve ever done, as evidenced by the song’s video.

Lamenting love gone wrong on nearly every song, El Camino‘s subject matter is nothing new. But it’s what these two do best, and when Auerbach howls “she’s bound to break ya” on “Money Maker,” you want to shake the hand of the gold digger who inspired such fiery feelings. “All this love of mine/And all my precious time/You’ll waste it ‘cause you/Don’t know what you want,” goes “Nova Baby,” one of the few songs where Auerbach takes his guitar for a high-flying solo. Sometimes the lyrics swing and miss, like the gag moment on “Run Right Back,” where Auerbach cries “She doesn’t read too much/But there’s no doubt/She’s been written about/Finest exterior/She’s so superior.”

However, with its stinging attitude and upbeat grooves, El Camino surpasses all of its sad-sack tendencies. Each song is its own piece of soulful groove. Hurling forward at full-throttle, this is The Black Keys’ most direct and consistent album yet. With the new audience the two have garnered from 2010’s Brothers, expect to hear these songs on everything from car commercials to the nearly extinct rock radio. There isn’t a bad song in the bunch, nor a moment to relax until you’ve ingested El Camino in full. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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