Release date: Dec. 6, 2011
Record label: Nonesuch Records
Official website: http://www.theblackkeys.com
The buzz: Last year’s “Brothers” marked a mainstream arrival for the Black Keys, taking them well beyond their well-established hipster and NPR audience and planting them in the minds of Grammy voters and MTV viewers (they won awards with both groups). For “El Camino,” they are again joined by producer Danger Mouse—for an album self-described as “definitely fast” and “all rock 'n' roll.”
The verdict: They’ve responded to increased pressure and expectation with their loosest, most gleeful set of songs. True to their word, singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Pat Carney keep almost entirely focused on a propulsive, party-starting strain of rock 'n’ roll, pausing for one half-ballad (“Little Black Submarines,” which eventually is overtaken by a Jack White-sy riff) but not taking detours into dirges or the ragged bayou blues that informed earlier albums. There’s a little more of a one-note feel to “El Camino,” but that note is a hell of a good time. Auerbach wails about bad women while Carney wages war on his kit track after track. Wall-rattling highlights like “Run Right Back” and “Gold in the Ceiling” will set up camp in your head for days—and if you forget them, they’ll probably pop up in about 750 commercials and TV shows in the next year.
Did you know? Bad news for fans of BlakRok, the Keys’ hip-hop-oriented side project with Damon Dash: Despite having eight-or-so songs in the can, there are no plans to release a second album.