El CaminoAlbum |
Rust belt rockers go for the gloss.
Even with rumors of a second Blakroc release squashed for now, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney remain relentlessly prolific. After the breakthrough success of 2010's Brothers and its inescapable single "Howlin' For You," the now Nashville-based duo have become quite the hot item. Danger Mouse returns as a full-time producer (he worked all of 2008's Attack and Release as well) and certainly makes his presence felt. If 2002's bare bones, drums-and-guitar debut The Big Come Up is your idea of a great Black Keys album, the undeniable commerciality of this album is going to be overwhelming, and not necessarily in a good way. But if you're ready to accept them as an alternative rock fan's welcome alternative to Kings of Leon, El Camino becomes much more appealing. For a band not particularly known for delivering pop records, El Camino more than holds its own. The studio tricks (female backing vocals, layered guitar licks, etc) aren't subtle: "Little Black Submarine" drifts from acoustics to classic rawk grandeur in less than four minutes. "Lonely Boy" and "Gold On The Ceiling" are among the band's most polished songs to date, but don't sound like artistic dead ends...at least not yet. In the end, the songs sound a little less personal and much less raw. So it really depends on whether you think that's a bad thing.