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Published: 2012/01/10
by Ron Hart

The Black Keys
El Camino


Akron, Ohio rock duo The Black Keys celebrate their 10th year in operation with their sleekest, glossiest studio endeavor to date. Working once again with producer Dangermouse, who helmed the pair’s 2008 effort Attack and Release, El Camino marks a drastic turn from the Muscle Shoals-indebted warmth of their excellent Grammy winning 2010 album Brothers in just about every way, shape and form imaginable. According to members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, the sound of this record was influenced by the likes of The Clash and The Cramps. However, upon listening to such tracks as “Gold on the Ceiling,” an educated ear can hear more of a semblance of T. Rex and The Sweet imbued within the riffs.

For Black Keys purists who swear by their copies of The Big Come Up and the group’s massively underrated tribute EP honoring Fat Possum icon Junior Kimbrough Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough, however, the sharp shift from blues to glam might be a little jarring at first. But repeated spins of this 11 song set will eventually reveal the bright spots that have rock critics the world over aglow with praise, namely the psych-boogie rave-up “Stop Stop” and LP opener “Lonely Boy,” which owes a debt of gratitude to both Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers and Steel Wheels -era Rolling Stones. Meanwhile, “Little Black Submarines”, with its placid acoustic intro that explodes into a full-throttle rocker straight out of Deep Purple’s Burn period, is one of the best tunes The Black Keys have ever created in their decade of action. El Camino is Auerbach and Carney’s Eliminator. Let’s just hope the next one isn’t their Recycler.

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