The Black Keys – El Camino

It took me a while to muster up the courage to write about the new Black Keys album, El Camino. So smitten was I with the album that something so good and exhilarating could come out so late in the year, that I feared my review would foam at the mouth like a screaming tweenage Bieber fan. Shit, I’m so excited I actually feel like crying right now.

Summer has arrived in the Southern Hemisphere and to some degree it’s been quite a lacklustre and rather sombre year for popular music, with only Ryan Adams really shining, and Bright Eyes barely hanging on by a thread. A kick up the arse has been desperately overdue, because summer deserves fat beats, and carefree parties, not angsty sonnets to deceased beloveds. Enter The Black Keys.

Brothers was on of those albums that I put off listening to for longer than I care to admit, mainly because of all the hype. Hype which it most certainly deserved. I eventually caved and revelled in its gritty honesty. But how do you follow-up an album like Brothers? Well it seems you call up former collaborator /producer /artist Danger Mouse and produce an album that does not only kick your ass to high heaven, but gets down and boogies with it before sending it off.

From the opening track it feels like you’ve stumbled into a party already in full swing, and you’re just in time to catch the last 30 minutes of so of this roaring shindig. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are on a roll, banging out tracks in quick succession – dirty little riffs and infectious beats, wall-to-wall. When it does slow down, they summon a little Led Zep, but soon again grit their teeth and launch straight back into the party with that heart-racing, shortness of breath kinda feeling.

One of Danger Mouse’s finest collaborations in recent years has been his Broken Bells adventure with The Shins’ frontman James Mercer. It’s truly incredible to see how his skills transcend so well with a band so different to the intellectual indie pop of Mercer’s, bringing out the gritty blues heartbeat of The Black Keys in such an upbeat way without sounding like Son House at a rave.

El Camino is not one of those albums that you listen to because you want to like it. You like El Camino from the get-go, and you cannot stop listening to it! Ok, so eventually it gets a bit much and you put on Broken Bells, followed by Beck’s Modern Guilt to come down a little, but you find your foot-a-tappin’ again, so you crank up the volume and introduce your neighbours to the Black Keys. Again.

Danger Mouse is a genius. So are The Black Keys. El Camino will not disappoint.

This post originally appeared on 13 December 2011 on www.onantler.com