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Music Review: Black Keys polish garage sound on ‘El Camino’

Amanda Nieto
LV Life Editor

It is time to pile into a dingy minivan and drive to the dusky groove of The Black Keys’ seductive new album, “El Camino.”

The group from Akron, Ohio has done it again with their seventh album, and first one to follow 2010’s Grammy-winner, “Brothers.”

After producing the hit song “Tighten Up,” Danger Mouse returns to smooth the rough edges of the ballsy duo.

This three-way partnership combines the filtered with the uncensored and creates a deceivingly complex record.

“El Camino” is filled to the rim with Dan Auerbach’s voice that howls of sex and his dirty guitar riffs while Patrick Carney pounds on the drums that creates a rumble from Southern California over to the East Coast.

The album begins with their first single, “Lonely Boy” where one cannot help but move their body thanks to the sick distortion of the guitar and steady smack of the drums.

Auerbach taunts, “Well, your mama kept you but your daddy left you, and I should’ve done you just the same.”

These greasy slights add to the fun of the song and serve as a precursor of what is to come.

“Gold on the Ceiling” has a guitar intro that shakes with ZZ Top swagger to the point that both Auerbach and Carney can be imagined playing with long beards and cheap sunglasses.

Backup singers and gospel claps add to the grimy blues feel until the song reaches pure pleasure.

Throughout the album the listener’s head is filled with a smoky liquid, something light enough to drift with, but heavy enough to command full attention.

This energy is kept, but like with any old automobile parts of the album stall with the repetitive two-chord patterns.

However, this is only a minor speed bump because the album is soon thrusted into full gear by the soul that oozes from the musicians.

“Little Black Submarines” opens with the acoustic guitar and Auerbach’s sultry voice, which that brings a Led Zeppelin-like feel.

A tambourine soon builds the tension until chaos is unleashed and Carney delivers a fury of passionate percussion.

The Black Keys attributed inspiration of the new album to The Clash, and this can be heard most bluntly in the song “Money Maker” where Carney delivers a controlled burst of drums that would make the punks proud.

The success that they found from “Brothers” is prominently displayed once again with lyrics that growl of twisted lives and dangerous women.

Although there is little growth with the lyrics, the constant jams keep a steady beat moving in the right direction.

“Run Right Back” is a perfect example of what the duo preaches with sticky lyrics like, “she’s the worst thing I’ve been addicted to.”

“Hell of a Season” echoes of “Tighten Up” with similar beats and vocals; however, the drums soon thrash in with the keyboard that adds shimmer to an otherwise familiar song.

It is followed by “Stop Stop,” a song with a catchy chorus that gropes the mind and pins the body down in blissful submission.

Like the grungy minivan on the cover, “El Camino” is filled with fast rhythms and a dirtiness that is downright delicious.

Amanda Nieto can be reached at

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