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El Camino
The Black Keys El Camino
Released 2 December 2011
Producer(s)

Danger Mouse, The Black Keys
Label Nonesuch
Length 37:42
Genre Blues, garage rock
Website www.theblackkeys.com
90

The Black Keys are the classic overnight success story a decade in the making. Their seventh album El Camino is their finest to date dripping with the dirty, seedy, glitz and glamour of classic stadium rock songs. Daniel Auerbach and Patrick Carney have channelled the spirit of Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Led Zeppelin to create the finest guitar album of the last five years.

Opening with the single of the year 'Lonely Boy' a raucous joyride sprinkled with T-Rex stardust and a perfect summer chorus of "I'm a Lonely Boy" it's hard not to get swept away. 'Dead and Gone' maintains this quality introduction. Ephemeral "Nah Nah" backing vocals introduce a sunshine flower-power vibe to the album as a dirty sex-sweat bassline dances beneath. The chorus of "I'll go anywhere you go" is the second killer hook in the song. 'Gold on the Ceiling' helps up the rhythm of Bowie's 'John, I'm Only Dancing' via the American heartland with fabulous results.

Their are some melodic similarities to 'Stairway to Heaven' in the country tinged verses of 'Little Black Submarines'. Thankfully things get back on track for 'Money Maker', a delicious strip show of QOTSA meets Jon Spencer Blues explosion, complete with psychedelic guitar solo money shot. The QOTSA meets swamp-blues feel continues on would be single 'Run Right Back'. Yet another hook laden song, the lyrics focus once again on sex, "She's the worst thing I've been addicted to".

The potential hit singles keep coming with ‘Sister' and 'Hell of a Season'. But 'Stop Stop' really stands out for its disco rhythms and high pitched vocals. The chorus of "stop stop..." burrows its way into your  consciousness like a drug. There's one last stadium rock outburst on 'Mind Eraser'. Once again its all about how the bass groove interacts with the vocals, "No don't let it be over" cries Auerbach through the choruses but alas it is. Thankfully there is a cure known as the play button and the repeat function.

- Stephen Byrne