4 Out Of 5 Stars
As The Black Keys have steadily ascended to the garage stomp throne since vacated by The White Stripes, the best thing about their climb has been the increasing coolness of their albums. "Brothers" pulled everything into a tight, thudding packages, and with "El Camino," the duo - again with the help of Danger Mouse - bring everything down to a basic fuzz-guitar pounding. At the same time, everything is in its perfect place, from the raging buzz-saw solos ("Gold On The Ceiling") to the Hives-y raunch of "Stop Stop," this is an album that refines itself to the core.
It also means those who loved the disjointed and unfocused loopiness that the early albums contained will be crying Sell-Out all over the place. The simple truth is, The Black Keys have learned their craft down the a level of cool that most bands never reach. They even know and wink at it; search for the Colbert Report Sell-Out Sell-Off between The Black Keys and vampire Weekend and you'll see what Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach think of their commercial success. It's only roc
k and roll, and they're going to have a good time with it. "She wants milk and honey/She wants filthy money" cries Auerbach in "Money Maker." It's still all about cars and girls. And volume. And for now, The Black Keys' "El Camino" is the best place to find it.