Sound — 10
There's no doubt that The Black Keys' sound has changed quite a bit since the band's first album in 2002. This new album will leave some listeners with feelings of nostalgia for the band's old style, as with their last album, "Brothers", which was hugely successful (raking in 3 Grammy's). However, those who are not opposed to the evolution of a band over time will find these new tracks fresh and well-written. Being produced once more by Danger Mouse, the majority of this album's sound follows in the vein of former Danger Mouse-produced Keys material, such as "Tighten Up" off of "Brothers" and 2008 album "Attack & Release". While much of "Brothers" was fairly laid back with some empty space left by shimmering guitars and falsetto singing, most of the guitar work "El Camino" is fairly fuzzed out, and Auerbach's voice is backed by a Nashville-style female chorus. One might call this new sound a happy medium between "Brothers" and the band's older material. Most of the songs are fairly short, giving the album a bit more pop-y feel. Do not be alarmed, however; the band maintains musical integrity and creativity while adding a new tinge to their overall sound, which has become a cross between 70's southern and punk rock with some disco elements thrown in.
Lyrics — 8
Most of the lyrics on "El Camino" have to do with women. Although the subject may not be entirely original, most of the lyrics fit the songs well throughout, with catchy choruses and some tongue-in-cheek verses. Departing from this are tracks "Gold On The Ceiling" and "Hell Of A Season", which help to balance out the "have-a-girl, had-a-girl" lyrics on the other songs. There is little particularly profound in most of the words, but they fit quite nicely with the overall feel of the album.
Overall Impression — 9
I, unlike other listeners, am often impressed with a band's ability to mold itself into something new between albums, and The Black Keys have succeeded fairly well in doing so. Although a lot of the album may seem like "singles", it is actually pretty diverse in and of itself, ranging from "Sister", a quick, upbeat tune about (of course) a girl to "Little Black Submarines", which sounds almost like a shorter "Stairway To Heaven". Since I got blasted on my last review for giving straight 10's, I'll give the overall impression a 9, but know this: in relation to today's music, it IS straight 10's. Unless you'd rather listen to the Justin Beiber Christmas album.