For years now, I've lived and breathed the music these guys make, which means that I'm a complete snob. They were awesome long before breaking from their blues rock style to make a modern rock album that would finally make money. In my view, they don't have to live up to the popular success of Brothers, but the success of their distinctive sound from years ago.
I had thought, on first listening to El Camino, that it was a good, solid rock album. I didn't have much to say beyond that. In fact, there's not a song on it that I dislike, which isn't the case for any other Black Keys album. However, I just wasn't all that fussed over El Camino because I felt that it was lacking exactly what's made me and many others obsess over The Black Keys for so many years: that pure soul and grit, a compulsive and compelling sound that marks the separation between their 'old music' and 'new music'. That blues sound has receded and been replaced with... well, we're not quite sure. I'm not the first to utter my misgivings that they're going the same way as The Kings of Leon.
So I got over it, and listened to the album for what it is: awesome music, and in a completely different style. For a long while I was every bit as hooked as I have been in the past. Whatever their sound, The Black Keys are still producing great music with plenty of flair - just a touch less integrity. Several months on, and having seen them on tour a few times in recent years, I can say that this music doesn't lend itself to the raw, awesome solos that we're used to, but it's still pretty good.
The album is worth the price, and just about worth the 5 stars.