This Chorus is Tasty
After listening to the new Black Keys album, I am stoked to say that I am very pleased with it. I must admit, I was a little worried about the Keys taking a step back but they definitely are still truckin and I think I enjoy this album more than Brothers. I know that is blasphemy to some, but I think that it has more of the Black Keys sound to it. Throughout the album you can hear digital distortion (very apparent on “Gold on the Ceiling”) which reminds me a lot of the early stuff like Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory. The vocals have a lot of similar style to Attack and Release, very smooth/clean and definitely used as another “instrument.” The guitar has this interesting fuzz sound that Auerbach has found and I think he used it to tie the whole album up. It’s very raunchy and helps boost the chorus’ to give them their extra boost. One of the biggest difference I have noticed on this album is the drums. They are hot in the mix which I haven’t really heard the Black Keys do throughout an album. The kick has a huge “thud” and the snare has a woody/thick/yet open attack. To me it always has seemed that the drums were a bit hard to hear or too far back in the previous albums, but they sit just right on El Camino. When you see them perform, they are always side by side, not Dan in front Pat in back, so this only makes tons of sense to me that the drums be loud and heavy.
As for songs, I am a big fan of “Gold on the Ceiling,” “Little Black Submarines, and “Stop Stop.” “Gold on the Ceiling” has that raw, raunchy, rock sound that drew me into the Keys on the Magic Potion album. “Little Black Submarines” has the very light/pleasing vocals in the beginning and climaxes towards the electric guitar in the middle with riffs placed in all the right spots. It reminded me a lot of the Attack and Release album. “Stop Stop” has an awesome chorus that kind of moves Dan’s voice to the back and brings the background singers to the front to create this crazy catchy chorus that is doubled with a very warm vibraphone sound. I’m can’t quite tell if it is actual vibes or a keyboard pad but it is very soothing. The intro to this song also reminds me of ideas drawn from the Big Come Up and The Moan days.
Of course, the last 3 albums all have a continuity for sound because they were produced by Danger Mouse. However, they all still have their unique aspects and this one definitely calls back to earlier Black Keys stuff. Unique qualities here were definitely that fuzz Dan found and those background singers appearing here and there. Listen closely, because sometimes they are way in the back but make a huge difference to how full everything sounds. The drums also had a very different sound than any other Keys album. You can hear the “Nashville sound” in there which probably only makes sense if you live here or have seen many local Nashville rock bands. There are many things I could relate and contrast but these are the major things I have noticed. If you have heard this album post some of your ideas!
I tried to find songs to post but of course they were taken down for copyright breach. However, the Black Keys website has a radio that you may be able to catch some of these songs on.