8/10The Black Keys seemingly appear to be riding the trend of swampy blues-rock that has been resuscitated in the last few years, but being as they released their debut record in 2002 and have released material almost every 12 months since then, I can’t discredit the group as be trendy over trend-setters. This doesn’t make the Black Keys new album, El Camino, a massive leap forward. As a matter of fact, it’s more like a quick stop at the bar, or an immediate shake-off of the thin layer of dust. When the Black Keys released Brothers just last year, they seemed to catapult to mainstream-flair. I can’t say it was undeserving, but it was a little peculiar.

The Black Keys are by no means doing anything revolutionary with their sound. The White Stripes have garnered a similar style since the 90′s, and Jack White has multiplied this style for his 2, 3, possibly 5 6 or 7 other different bands. But the Black Keys, quite simply, do the swamp-infested blues-rock riffage better than anyone in the genre. Mutemath gave this one a shot, and though it worked relatively okay, The Black Keys simply eclipse them in almost every facet with exceptional showmanship and astonishingly addictive licks. Lonely Boy’s ear worm  flair starts the record off so well, that it seemed impossible the band could keep the pace throughout. The thing is, they kind of do.

With a brisk 35 minutes, far shorter than their previous album, El Camino is quick and jabs you at the gut. It is sharper and more pop-centered, with its quicker pace and dirty riff-centered production. It cleans up the sound, making the record a bit tighter and the instrumentation more polished. This may turn off some fans, but this record will undoubtedly draw in more to their gritty though pop mechanics.

Run Right Back is catchy as shit. And though I could break down the specifics of what makes this song wildly memorable, you simply need to rock out and enjoy the very surface satisfaction received from this song. With that said, the album is better than Brothers. It is unique, but also the top of its class. You can respect an artist that makes a conscious effort to refine their material without subjecting themselves to the typical confines of selling out. Little Black Submarines showcases a slightly more melodic side of the group, though the blistering pace is only withheld for a brief moment. Dead and Gone allows the listener a quick breather, and remains a highlight on this record as well.

I do have a few issues with the package as a whole. For such a short record, it does become a little tiring after some time. In brief blistering waves, the band succeeds brilliantly. through the course of a whole album, the sound and style seems to show its wear and tear.

The frontman’s voice is exceptional for the style of the group, and knowing they are no more than a duo, you can come to respect the instrumentation that much more. The Black keys new album is perfect by installing the stylings of the group in a slightly sleeker and more refined package. The album bleeds into a 35-minute long well-chipped rock and roll session. With cookie-cutter music dropping left and right, you can come to appreciate a band that holds true to their strongest suits and crafts formidable pop-rock with that special tinge of quality showmanship and rocking status.