If there's one thing you can count on from Nonesuch Records, it's great package design. Between the letterpress-printed CD jackets for The Low Anthem's Smart Flesh (which, as far as I'm concerned, is a minor work of art), or the heat-activated ink on the Brothers disk. El Camino came with a full-color, eight-page booklet of photographs of El Caminos and a sticker on the shrinkwrap that reads "Play Loud."
That's really the best prescription for this CD. I listened to it on my CD player (why yes, I still have a walkman) the first couple of times I listened to it. It definitely has a different character on my computer speakers.
That being said, I was pretty underwhelmed by the lead-off track and single, "Lonely Boy." For me, the album doesn't pick up until the third track, "Little Black Submarines," even though I feel the melody follows "Staircase to Heaven" a little too closely.
So what didn't I like? The first three tracks feel a little too mechanical to me. While that's a testament to Patrick Carney's skill as a drummer, I bought the album expecting more of the blues rock from Brothers. Instead, I hold in my hands a very competent dance album. But that's probably Danger Mouse's influence. Thanks...I guess.
However, the band is still true to form, which is why I highlighted the other three songs on this playlist. They each have a more human element than the first three tracks. And although I find "Little Black Submarines" a little grating now, it was the track that convinced me that I should check the album out. You can expect some excellent, hook-laden songs and lyrics about lust and heartbreak that are mysteriously pregnant with meaning. The additionally background vocals help the band sound more full.
All in all, I don't know if this album represents a huge step forward for the band, but it's certainly not a step backward.
So what do you guys think of the songs? I'd love it if you tell me in the comments section! I want to know I'm not writing into a void!
As always, send me music and suggestions if you have them. Send this blog to your family and friends so we can build a community of people who love awesome music.
Black Keys Official, Black Keys on Spotify (El Camino is not yet available)