Fame has come both steadily and suddenly for the Black Keys—steadily in that they’ve been producing their bluesy groove for nigh on a decade, honing rather than messing with the formula, and suddenly because it’s only been in the last 3 years (pretty much since Danger Mouse came on board as a producer) that the world has sat up and paid attention. Previous album Brothers went gold in America, and the two 30-odd year old slackers who make up the band have suddenly found themselves wooing sold out stadiums.
It comes as no surprise then that El Camino doesn’t mess with this hard won success with too many curve balls. The usual influences are present and proud- opener and first single Lonely Boy has Hendrix howl and dusty stoned boogie, whilst a couple of tracks further in finds Gold On The Ceiling full of rowdy clavichord and Sympathy for the Devil backing vocals. The albums one seemingly slow moment, Little Black Submarines, starts off every inch the sensitive acoustic torch song before flipping and thrusting into a hard riffin’ Zepplin tinged thrash out. And so the album proceeds, strutting, balling and hollering through 40 minutes of straight up hell raising good times.
El Camino could be criticised for being one dimensional, (although in 40 minutes how many dimensions do you want..?) and it is certainly remains within the shadow of the giants of rock, but it’s also brimming with fun- simple, uncomplicated rock n roll fun, made by a couple of guys who know they’re at the top of their game, and determined to enjoy it while it lasts.