On track 1 of ‘El Camino’, The Black Keys seventh album Dan Auerbach claims he is a ‘Lonely Boy’. Judging by the three sold out shows they’re set to play at London’s Alexandra Palace, at the moment he is anything but lonely.
Despite this being their seventh album, the duo of Auerbach and Patrick Carney have been (up until fairly recently), a new outfit to many peoples ears. Their last effort ‘Brothers’ scooped three Grammy’s and ‘El Camino’ will go some way to increase their rapidly growing popularity.
It’s hard not to be impressed by the guitar and drum stomping noise the pair create, (especially for just 2 people) and the album rarely slows pace. When it does for track 4 ‘Little Black Submarines’ it seems out of place. Well at least it starts off that way – 2 and a half minutes in and all is thudding again.
El Camino is once more produced by Danger Mouse, and from the rich sounds he gets must know them like the back of his hand by now. ‘Run Right Back’ and ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ are prime examples, the latter featuring an ensemble of female backing singers wailing to the high heavens, adding extra glam to the song rather than mellowing it as you might expect.
Comparisons to The White Stripes are still likely, (earlier Keys albums sound very similar and both bands having colours in the name) but like ‘Brothers’ which stepped away from those comparisons the new record moves even further afield.
‘El Camino’ sounds nothing like The White Stripes, but also sounds nothing like ‘Brothers’ either. ‘El Camino’ is more situated within 60’s garage (think Miles Kane but much sleazier), hard hitting and with at times a more bluesier feel.
When a band works with such primate resources (a guitar and drums essentially), there will be limits and the sound of this album never leaps out as anything particularly more forward thinking than anything else they’ve done up till now.
At just 37 minutes long ‘El Camino’ isn’t something ‘utterly unpredictable and wild’, but it IS a rip-roaring ride, and songs like ‘Hell of a Season’ are the band at their very best.
Lonely or not, it might explain why they’re currently the biggest garage band in the world.