El Camino

[Nonesuch Records]

Prior to its release, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney proclaimed El Camino the first “all rock ’n’ roll album” of the duo’s decade-long career. Point taken, but the Keys have hardly forsaken the retro-soul vibe that’s underpinned previous discs. Kicking off with the raging, surf-guitar-driven “Lonely Boy” (think the Cramps with a touch of Memphis R&B), Carney and guitarist Dan Auerbach serve notice straightaway of their no-holds-barred approach. “Dead and Gone” and “Hell of a Season” lift unabashedly from the Clash, but the punk fervor of both tunes is tempered by Phil Spector-like wall-of-sound production. “Money Maker” is similarly powered by Auerbach’s roaring fuzz guitar, but the effect is less Black Sabbath than heavy-metal soul. Indeed, shadows of bygone eras during which rock, pop and R&B mingled in a simmering stew course throughout the album. Fans of the Ramones and the Shangri-Las alike will find much here to love. –Russell Hall

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