If The Black Keys were a hip young band trying to make a splash, one would not complain at their new album “El Camino” (Nonesuch). But for a band who has churned out profound, emotional, lyrical compositions, like “Too Afraid to Love You,” “Everlasting Light” and “I’m Not The One,” all of which appear in their last album, then “El Camino” is the lackluster album loyal fans did not ever see coming.
Less than a year after their Grammy win, “El Camino” is the album made to cash in on the newfound limelight. The songs are fun to listen to, function well as quick pick me ups and play list for the treadmill. But for fans that have followed the band for the longer ride from the beginning, the quick twist of the hips will not meet the deep expectations of the rich soulful quality that catapulted the band to the main stage.
With the first track, “Lonely Boy,” Carney doesn’t waste any time to display his prowess with the drums. His beats frantically exorcises all the soul from this once vulnerable, emotional band, while Auerbach belts out sugar coated catchy vocals engineered to get you to move and more importantly, sell the album.
The pop-rock dramatics cover up for the insufficiency of the many short pointless songs such as “Run Right Back,” “Dead and Gone,” and “Money Maker,” which runs for less than three minutes and is essentially Auerbach on an endless loop singing, “Hey my my she’s a money maker.” These tracks will give you a quick fix but are shallow compared to the depth Auerbach and Carney brought to their previous works.
“Nova Baby” and “Mind Eraser,” the two closing songs of the album are each a bone for the loyal fan to chew on until the band’s next release. Each teases of the simple straight forward sounds paired with lyrics that get right to the heart of the matter, qualities that have made The Black Keys the beloved darling indie-band.
“El Camino” is a subcompact with the tricked out sound system with an empty tank. Rather than the soldiered, well traveled, Camino on the cover, this album is the ride The Black Keys should have never been so cavalier to take out of the lot.