El Camino review - The Black Keys
You can take the band out of the garage, but you can’t take the garage out of the band. That’s the message behind the Black Keys’ awesomely down-and-dirty seventh album, which caps off a stellar year that found the Ohio blues-rock duo winning three Grammys for their 2010 breakthrough, Brothers, and fielding offers from Robert Plant to play bass for the band.
At a time like this, guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney might be forgiven for trading their minimalist sound for something a little more, well, maximum. Instead, they’ve teamed up with longtime producer Danger Mouse to do what they do best: make a small-room racket that sounds massive enough for a bigger-is-better world.
El Camino trades the soulful stylings of Brothers for harder-driving, faster-riffing rock & roll: Opener ”Lonely Boy” is all quick-shimmying drums and raunchy guitars; ”Gold on the Ceiling,” with its swarm-of-bees organs and acid-trip gospel harmonies, could be a lost Nuggets gem. The best surprise, though, is edge-of-sanity epic ”Little Black Submarines,” a crate-digger thriller that starts as a quiet acoustic hymn, then explodes. They don’t make vintage folk-rock heavy metal like they used to — if they ever used to. And that’s a very good thing. A-