Blesok no. 83, March-April, 2012
Sound Reviews


The Black Keys – El Camino

Nikita Ramkissoon


It feels weird reviewing an album months after its release, but then again, not reviewing The Black Keys would be a sin.

El Camino did not disappoint, and definitely makes the late review worth it. If only just to wax lyrical.
Seven albums after 2002’s The Big Come Up and the duo from Ohio are still making good with their promise of gritty orgasmic rock like its meant to be. Their guitar and garage sound-driven almost prison blues is still as ridiculous and still as potent in all its spaghetti-Western glory.
Now fully teaming up with co-producer Danger Mouse, it’s an easy album to get hooked on to. It’s slick and a bit more accessible than previous ones, but still makes you feel vintage – like you should be in a crappy old El Camino, traversing the vast expanse of the southern states with a scratchy eight-track blaring the likes of Gold on the Ceiling.
It’s the aural equivalent of Fear and Loathing with the seediness of being in a smelly old car with a hot blonde woman in naught but tiny denim shorts and bikini top bending over the jukebox at a last chance gas station-cum-diner.
El Camino
makes me want to be that person driving that old car.
The music itself is a new, more polished take on their usual style. A few songs sound cleaner and more streamlined – as if someone actually attempted to sweep the carpet – but most are still rooted in snappy melodies, intense blues guitar with captivating yet subtle riffs and crude vocals and hilariously ridiculous lyrics; Well she's a special thing/ She doesn't read too much, oh/ But there's no doubt/ She's written about.
Though it lacks their epic slow-burners, which makes me sad. It’s a bit more action, evident in Dead and Gone and Money Maker, yet the album contains the same theme of women, life being hard and all that blues. It’s catchier, trendier and far less niche than the likes of Brother. Basically, it’s modified Black Keys, still as greasy but with some boogie.
My favourite is Little Black Submarines, which smacks of Led Zeppelin with drummer Patrick Carney banging out a garage-days rendition of John Bonham. The acoustic and vocal opening is deceptive as the song explodes into screaming electric devastation.
El Camino
is sheer momentum. It’s crass. So crass. But so slick.

Published at: http://www.timeslive.co.za/entertainment/music/2012/05/09/album-review-the-black-keys---el-camino (09 May, 2012 09:43)




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