While The Black Keys' Grammy-winning breakthrough "Brothers" took its inspiration from old-school hip-hop, the new "El Camino" (Nonesuch) vibe is more Southern-fried and boogie-based, like ZZ Top crossed with The Stooges. The ache at the core of "Lonely Boy" and "Hell of a Season" is coated in such sticky guitar melodies and crisp, upbeat rhythms that it feels like comfort food. Even the uncharacteristic ballad "Little Black Submarines" ends in a stomping snarl of garage rock. "El Camino" will keep the Black Keys deservedly parked at the top of the charts.

 

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THE BLACK KEYS

 

"El Camino"

GRADE A-

BOTTOM LINE Blues rock that's stomping, fuzzed-out fun