The Black Keys El Camino Review Roundup

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By Zachary Swickey

Few bands have ascended the rock and roll ranks as swiftly as The Black Keys have managed to do over the last year. Sure, the band has been around since their ’02 debut, but it wasn’t until their Danger Mouse-produced record – 2008’s Attack & Release – that the group finally started getting the attention they deserved. Consequentially, they went from playing bars and clubs to mid-size theatres, and early next year the band will be embarking on their first-ever arena tour (including a date at NYC’s iconic Madison Square Garden) – a rather magnificent feat for any band let alone a small-scale bluesy duo.

If the reviews pouring in on their latest effort, El Camino, are any indication, they won’t have any problems selling tickets. Here’s what the critics have had to say about the Black Keys’ seventh album:

>>> Los Angeles Times: “It feels a little funny to gush so outwardly about a record, like the critical capacities are failing when enthusiasm takes over. Really, the only question is whether, this late in the year, this constitutes the best rock album of 2011 or 2012. It’ll probably be both.” (Four stars out of four).

>>> Entertainment Weekly: “They’ve [the Black Keys] teamed up with longtime producer Danger Mouse to do what they do best: make a small-room racket that sounds massive enough for a bigger-is-better world. El Camino trades the soulful stylings of Brothers for harder-driving, faster-riffing rock & roll. They don’t make vintage folk-rock heavy metal like they used to – if they ever used to. And that’s a very good thing.” (A-).

>>> Rolling Stone: “There’s still a strange jukebox anonymity to the Keys’ approach; their vintage organ and guitar sounds often project larger personae than the band itself. But part of the reason Carney and Auerbach keep finding new ways to shake up that old-school blues-rock rumble is that they’re workaday dudes smart enough to get out of the way of their own songs. Like Clark Kent’s or Peter Parker’s, their 99 percentness only seems to enhance their powers.” (Four out of five stars).

>>> Spin: “The music is rooted in terse melody and two-chord patterns, so its bang-bang gets repeititve in a couple spots. And while Auerbach’s singing is finally more muhfuh then midnight moaner, he still says very little – women are trouble; people will take what’s yours; life ain’t easy. That’s okay though. Sal St. Monica doesn’t like to waste time with words, and El Camino is all action. (8 out of 10).

>>> Paste: “By the time the record ends, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself immediately wanting to start over again from the beginning. El Camino is yet another ear-pleasing installment in the catalog of a consistently impressive band. It’s an album that leaves you breathless and wanting more, but it becomes more fun with each new spin. (8.3 out of 10).