- 3 x LP
- Expected release
- 5 November 2021
The story of the Black Keys' seventh album, named after an automobile, long out of fashion and featured nowhere in the artwork, begins on a sidewalk in the middle of a blizzard. On the afternoon of January 9, 2011, singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney stood on the pavement outside the Bowery Hotel in New York City, saw the weather turning vicious, looked at each other and came to the same decision: They had to get off the road.
The night before, the duo scored another first in a season getting crowded with them: The Black Keys' debut appearance on Saturday Night Live, performing "Howlin' for You" and "Tighten Up," the breakout singles from their latest release, Brothers. Two days earlier, Brothers—the Keys' first Top Five album, released in May, 2010—became their first gold record, passing a half-million in sales thanks to heavy FM rotation and a near-year of gigging, now set to run deep into 2011 including a prestige slot at Coachella and victory laps in Europe and Australia.
The Keys "tried to settle down" after cancelling the tour, Carney says. But that didn't last. "I said, 'We should just make another record.' And I asked Dan if we should get Danger Mouse"—the hip-hop and modern-rock producer, real name Brian Burton, who worked on the Keys' 2008 record, Attack and Release, and co-produced "Tighten Up." Auerbach and Carney did not have any new songs, but as the drummer notes, "Most of our records—we don't have material when we start. Brothers was made up in the studio."
Rolling Stone, which featured the band on their cover around the release, hailed El Camino for bringing “raw, riffed-out power back to pop’s lexicon,” and called it “the Keys’ grandest pop gesture yet, augmenting dark-hearted fuzz blasts with sleekly sexy choruses and Seventies-glam flair.” The Guardian said, “They sound like a band who think they've made the year's best rock'n'roll album, probably because that's exactly what they've done.”