The Black Keys

El Camino (Nonesuch)

Phases & Stages

The Black Keys

El Camino (Nonesuch)

With last year's Brothers, the Black Keys achieved overnight success a decade in the making. Breakthrough hit "Tighten Up" led to more commercial exposure than a season of Mad Men, not to mention appearances on Austin City Limits and Saturday Night Live. Quickie follow-up El Camino essentially offers a full-length extension of that single, with 11 tracks co-written and produced by Brian Burton (Danger Mouse). Unlike Attack & Release, the former Akron, Ohio, and now Nashville, Tenn., duo's transformative collaboration from 2008, however, the band's seventh LP comes ribbed for instant gratification, a full-band affair with 1970s glam ("Gold on the Ceiling"), throbbing swagger (the standout "Dead and Gone"), and eerie pop undertones (the electric disco "Sister"). In other words, guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney have cut a Gnarls Barkley album – bombastic, lopsided, and lacking the grimy appeal of early basement classics Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory. For every golden moment, like the warped-Western shake appeal of "Run Right Back" and border-town juke-jointer "Lonely Boy," there's a missed connection, most notably "Little Black Submarines," a "Stairway to Heaven" moment that falls a few stories short. As such, El Camino might be the weakest Black Keys album since 2006's Magic Potion, but the band certainly earned this celebratory joy ride.

**

READ MORE
More The Black Keys
Phases & Stages
The Black Keys
Turn Blue (Record Review)

Luke Winkie, June 20, 2014

ACL Live Shot: The Black Keys
The Black Keys
Zilker Park, Oct. 12

Melanie Haupt, Oct. 19, 2012

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Johnny Nicholas
Fresh Air (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 23, 2016

Texas Platters
Meet Your Death
Meet Your Death (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Sept. 16, 2016

More by Austin Powell
Record Review: The Young
Record Review: The Young

Aug. 22, 2014

Pickathon Polishes Off No. 16
Pickathon Polishes Off No. 16
Oregon fest boasts IPAs, ATXs, camping, and sustainability

Aug. 4, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The Black Keys

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)