As far as Grammy winners go, The Black Keys might just be the most unsuspecting. For 2010’s Brothers, the pair delivered an unadorned collection of blues rock that captured a band at the height of their game. El Camino may not be the follow-up opus, or even the adventurous curve ball that many suspected would follow, but no matter. In place of Brothers‘ insistent and slow-building guitars, El Camino is chock-full of in-your-face riffs and showy little solos. In fact, the whole thing feels slightly tongue-in-cheek, opening with a line like “I’m so above you” and closing with a refrain of “don’t let it be over.” But therein lies the joy of The Black Keys. Even at their showiest, or most glammed up, these two are in the business of having fun, and on El Camino, you can hear it. “Gold on the Ceiling” is a hopping bar rock number with an insistent and atonal organ line; “Run Right Back,” a sexed-up rocker that calls to mind early Queens of the Stone Age. That you can almost hear Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney winking at each other is perhaps the reason El Camino works, and no doubt the reason these two remain rock’s most unwitting masterminds.
The Black Keys