That's a vintage Chrysler minivan, not a Chevy El Camino, on the cover of the Black Keys' seventh studio album, a confident and compelling rock throwdown that manages to upstage last year's excellent Brothers. The title, which means "the road" in Spanish, refers to the band's slow and steady journey to success, symbolized by the shabby vehicle that carried the band across the country as it built a following during its first two years of gigs.
Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney, who teamed up 10 years ago in Akron, Ohio, have evolved into an inventive, cogent force, and their talents coalesce with a fiery brilliance in Camino's 11 tracks. The two simply floor it, taking their blues-funk core on a tire-squealing joyride of crackling hooks, fuzzy guitars, thumping beats and molten grooves. El Camino never idles or backfires, hugging every hairpin turn with breezy certainty.
Producer Danger Mouse tags along to spice up the ride with his usual nimble flourishes, making this road trip even more exhilarating. — Edna Gundersen
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