When: Mon., March 19, 7:30 p.m. 2012
In a New York Times feature from December, Dan Auerbach explains the brisk pace and no-frills attack of the Black Keys' latest album, El Camino (Nonesuch), as a reaction to what he assumed would be their audience's heightened expectations. The group had become seriously popular and was expected to up the ante: "I think that's part of the reason these songs are so fast," he says. "I think we wanted to just muscle through it." El Camino rocks harder than its predecessor, Brothers, which relies more heavily on R&B and the blues, but it's just as hooky—and the Danger Mouse production prevents the songs from sounding like back-to-basics boilerplate. They expertly recycle classic-rock riffs over huge grooves that seem built for commercial hip-hop, and every lean component works to ratchet up the momentum. Even when Auerbach plays a meaty guitar lead, he's not so much showing off his chops or elaborating on the melody as he is pushing the groove forward. There are still a few R&B touches—"Dead and Gone" includes Motown-style glockenspiel, for instance—but other tracks, especially "Little Black Submarine," pack a serious Led Zeppelin wallop. Practically every song is about a woman who's gone or hard to get, which quickly grows tedious, but when I'm enjoying some hard-hitting ear candy I don't necessarily need profound lyrics. The Black Keys have staying power—El Camino sounds just as good as it did the first time I heard it, nearly three months ago. —Peter Margasak Arctic Monkeys open.