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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

In Review: The Black Keys

The Black Keys
El Camino
Nonesuch Records

Rating: 4

An American muscle, flexing its engine in full reverie, the closer one draws near the more gasoline taints the air. The Black Key’s latest album El Camino serves a heavy hand numbering in a romp shaking expedition into the modern classicist school of blues rock and roll.

Only a two-piece band, vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney pack the weighty licks, resonating with an equally bumping drumset, to make El Camino an impact on the ears. Granted this album seems to call on the dancing skills of the listeners, with each hook catchy enough to shimmy to.

Danger Mouse produced, El Camino deviates from previous releases in tempo, featuring a quicker guitar but never forgetting the heavy sound that recalls much of the I-5’s dark pavement. This is music that feels no shame in turning wives to pillars of salt and there is no remorse dealt for those who brush El Camino off as more of the same.

Tracks such as “Sister” have Auerbach crooning “’wake up, you’re gonna wake up to nothing” with a smooth beat underlaying much of the track. Danger Mouse has hands all over this one. Still the sound is of the iconic Black Keys, this time more riff heavy (not a bad thing of course). Then there is the slow fast composition of “Little Black Submarines” in a style similar to Nirvana’s attempt to capture The Pixies substance, the song crawls to halt, then accelerates firing up dust, racing off. The Black Keys does The Black Keys in more of a Black Keys way.

For a band preparing to immortalize itself into the history of Coachella headliners among Jimi Christ and Led Zeppelin, it is apt that the source material is worthy to pose a minor dent in history. In all El Camino will give its listener the patina of a shiny car, probably not that of a Chevrolet, but closer to that of the Chrysler minivan the duo used to tour in.


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