I'll admit, it was difficult for me to begin writing this review. It's hard to take a stance on an album so incredibly mediocre. El Camino starts off promising, but quickly fades into forgettable background music. The first three tracks, “Lonely Boy,” “Dead and Gone,” and “Gold on the Ceiling,” are the most memorable tracks on the album. “Lonely Boy,” in particular, has a catchy guitar riff and background vocals that compliment the chorus and give the song depth.
That being said, from a technical aspect, the album is actually quite well put together. The vocals and instrumentals seem incredibly calculated and well-planned out, and I think that's exactly what gets me about it. It doesn't like it's as raw or was as fun to make as previous Black Keys albums, and therefore it isn't as fun to listen to. Dan Auerbach seems to have traded in the bluesy voice that drew me to albums like 2003's Thickfreakness, for a more calculated, restricted sound, and frankly, it's boring. I had it playing in my car for two days and barely paid attention to it whatsoever.
The track “Gold on the Ceiling” is probably the closest thing the album has to that raw, energetic sound. “Mind Eraser” also showcases Auerbach's vocals quite well, but the song itself is too repetitive and not nearly energetic enough to be memorable.
Essentially, El Camino isn't a bad album by any means. There are no tracks that are absolutely painful to listen to, and most of them are pretty catchy. It's just not something I was excited to listen to, and after I write this I would honestly be content to never listening to it again. It's almost like a romantic comedy for me; I'm not opposed to it, I don't cringe at the idea of it being played, but I would never chose it over something else.
My final words are this: listen to the album once, maybe twice. If you get through it all without forgetting you're listening to it, great, listen more if you want. If not, well, you and I have a lot in common. Let's hang out or something.