The Black Keys
El Camino

2011, Nonesuch Records
Blues Rock

Ritorna il duo che piace ai nostalgici dei "vecchi tempi" e fa impazzire le nuove generazioni
Review by Eleonora Muzzi - Publish on: 20/02/12

Seven releases in a little more than ten years, eight if we count their live album (2008): almost a record-breaking count for this Ohio-based duo formed in 2001. Achieving great public and critical success release after release, the band reached its peak with this last album entitled “El Camino”, released towards the end of 2011. They performed on the best stages of the whole world, and their tour counted an extraordinary amount of sold out dates (even Italy, not too long ago). Anyway, this two guys don't lack of fame. But more than fame, they don't suffer from a lack of creativity. Riding the wave of alternative rock's rebirth towards the end of the '90s, Daniel Auerbach (guitar, voice) and Patrick Carney (drums) based their sound on a revival of that kind of rock that leaned towards blues, with strong reminiscences of the great classics, but they made it even more modern with a special care for different rhythms and contamination. An astoundingly explosive mix that, throughout the years, gathered more fans with each release, beside pleasing the critics, who always praised and easily defined them as “brave”.

“El Camino” doesn't let the fans down. One year after the release of their highly acclaimed “Brothers”, the strongest and best written album of their career comes out. This record swings between a rich modern sound and a touch of classics, with some unexpected echoes of Jethro Tull and other bands of the same era. The journey starts with “Lonely Boy”, a frenetic and powerful track (a constant of the whole album), with all the due moments of slowing down the tempo, which is a characteristic of the genre. The chorus is catchy and it gets in your head at the point that it's hard to get it out, unless you skip to the next “Dead And Gone”, another great song that reminds of early The Police because of its rhythm. We would like to point the spotlight on “Little Black Submarines” for a while, as it brings our mind back to the '70s and to the years of the development of rock as we know it nowadays. The start is slow but the sudden acceleration gives a certain movement and dynamism to the song, which breaks the general pattern of the album and allows the listener to relax for a couple of minutes (almost around the clock) just to get back to speed with the following ones. Songs like “Run Right Back” and “Hell Of A Season”, both apparently simple but with a rather articulate structure, tend to root quickly in the memory of the listeners and risk to stay there for quite a long time.

Indeed, “El Camino” is an album that could be listened to for an undefinable amount of times and never get boring. It's full of apparently easy-listening and catchy songs, but once you get used to the “anachronistic” sound, you'll discover new licks and tricks among guitar or drums patterns, or a vocal filter that will make the song unique and impossible to imitate, even after you've listened to it fifteen times. But other than the extreme longevity, this is an album that accompanies those who listen to it. It seems like it was written and produced to walk by the listener during day-to-day chores and it also sounds perfect for driving. Just let the music go by and instead of the usual, boring drive from home to your workplace you'll find a new route and possibly you'll find a new perspective. In the end, “El Camino” is definitely one of the best releases of 2011 because of its strengths and power. It is the perfect album for those who look back at the “good ol' days” but also for someone who approaches the band for the first time. Even if they went through a substantial evolution, The Black Keys maintained their sound intact during all these years on the road. This full length will keep you company for a long time, and there's no doubt that songs like “Gold On The Ceiling” and “Money Maker” will make you move around your place.

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