The Black Keys – El Camino (Nonesuch)

With sleek, sexy and surprising cover art of people-movers both retro and modern, a gleaming silver sticker on the front instructing you to ‘play loud’, and eleven smouldering tracks within, the latest album from Ohio duo The Black Keys is this summer’s biggest fire hazard. The boys are back with their trademark dirty blues rock sound, but this time they’ve arrived in a cloud of rocket smoke and a blaze of glitter in the middle of a dusty road.

This album throbs with Pat’s ball-busting drumming, Dan’s aching vocals and that patented pulsating Black Keys rhythm. So far so familiar, but the addition of devotional female backing vocals, trippy keyboards and some strut-along-the-street bass takes the signature Black Keys sound up to eleven without losing any of its grubby lo-fi charm.

Co-producer Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton is given songwriting credits on the album, and his sparkling disco-soul fingerprints are all over these tracks. He’s dressed the Black Keys up in three-piece pastel polyester suits, and boy do they rock the look.

The songs are predominantly about unrequited love, obsession and loss. “I’ll go anywhere you go, whoa-oa-oa, all the way”, sings Dan on Dead And Gone, but it sounds as though the person he’s singing to would rather he stayed at home. Despite the bittersweet lyrics this album is as raunchy and addictive as Dan’s lust for his shadowy paramour.

El Camino means ‘the road’, and this is one album you’ll definitely want blasting out of your car as you hit your holiday sweet spots this summer.

Kathryn van Beek

Click here to listen to Gold On The Ceiling from El Camino: