Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Album Review: The Black Keys - El Camino (2011)

First off, let me just say that the fact I’m writing an album review for something that just came out yesterday should say a lot. If you’re an avid reader, you know how late I am with these things.

The Black Keys have come back strong with El Camino. There was a lot of pressure for Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney to come back with something bigger and better than the powerhouse of 2010, Brothers, their major label debut and sixth disc of their career. And they did just that.
The album starts off with a typical Black Keys song and their debut single, “Lonely Boy”: high energy, with Auerbach’s gritty guitar and Carney’s crashing drums. Not to mention, women woes in their lyrics: “So you tore my heart out / and I don’t mind bleeding / any old time to keep me waiting, waiting, waiting...” “Lonely Boy” is a great choice for a single and a great song to start the album off. When I heard it, I thought it was so good, I feared El Camino could be one of those albums where only the single was good and the rest was kind of “eh” because they’ve put so much energy into making the debut so good - I’m looking at you Brandon Flowers’ Flamingo, Jimmy Eat World’s Chase This
, Interpol’s Our Love to Admire and anything else they’ve done after that. It’s not just the artists I’ve mentioned though, it happens to a lot of Rock acts these days, especially if it’s an album releasing after a huge hit.
They then continue on with some songs that have potential to be classics: “Dead and Gone,” “Gold on the Ceiling,” “Little Black Submarines” and “Run Right Back.” Seriously, the first half is just back to back with really amazing songs - creatively and technically. All of them I’ve just mentioned (and I feel the same way with a lot of songs by The Black Keys,) sound like something not created in this time period - it really feels like it’s the 1960’s or even 1950’s Blues. The Black Keys are so important to current music, I think, because of that - they’re doing something that’s on a completely different level than most bands out there. Popularity and being “well-liked” doesn’t influence them at all - it all comes from within them. The other band I also strongly feel that way about is Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s - very different sound from The Black Keys but they seem to have very similar views on making music and etc.

Anyway, I digress, as I often do.

Other songs to look out for include “Sister” and “Nova Baby.” I’m not sure yet since it only just came out yesterday, but I’m pretty sure this is my favorite Black Keys album yet...and I know since it’s so new, I might get flack for saying that since Brothers and Rubber Factory are the end-all, be-all of the Black Keys discography. But give it a couple listens and then get back to me. You might start to see where I’m coming from. The thing is, there are a couple of songs on Brothers where I’m like, “okay, I can listen to this once or twice and then I’m tired of it,” such as, “The Go Getter” and “Unknown Brother,” but El Camino NEVER ceases to loose it’s steam. Every track has something really interesting about it and something to get you hooked. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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