Words by Dennis Ruhlin

Remember Attack & Release? Remember Thickfreakness? Remember Rubber Factory? Forget everything you remember about The Black Keys. Forget that Southern soul and the genuine, real feelings that stirred when you listened to those albums. Forget the blues, forget heartbreak, forget it all. This album represents something entirely different. If El Camino wasn’t your cup of tea, don’t even bother with this one.

It’s hard for me to say, but Turn Blue is a good album. Danger Mouse is talented as hell, and turns out music that is incredibly appealing. Add the ridiculously talented Black Keys and you’re guaranteed a success. The opening song, ‘Weight of Love’ is a perfect example of what to expect. Ethereal sounds frame that dreamy guitar and Dan Auerbach’s vocals in an almost Broken Bells type manner. You’ll get that same feeling on tracks ‘Bullet In The Brain’ and ‘Waiting On Words’.

But is that what you want with The Black Keys? Do you want a new direction? Do you want to think ‘is this the Black Keys or the new Broken Bells? Is this Auerbach or Mercer??’ I never wanted to have to wonder that, but with this album I do.

This album has some strong points. It’s got a deeper sound, and is slightly more challenging to listen to. You’re going to have to get drawn in. It’s a bold, new step for these fellers, into a borderline tripped-out landscape. It’s kind of cool, but I don’t want that when I hear the Black Keys. If I’m getting surf and turf, I want a fucking steak and lobster. Don’t give me something else and say ‘yeah well it’s still pretty tasty’. I bet it is, but where’s what I wanted?

Thankfully, one track delivers something similar to what I was looking for. ‘It’s Up To You Now’ is part psychedelic rock, part stoner rock, part lofi, and it echoes the band’s earlier, more instrumentally and soulful driven days. Shredding guitars, thundering drums, Auerbach howling along… It’s heavy, it rocks, and it’s without a doubt my favorite track on the album.

Unfortunately, the album ends on a country goober note. Country fans rejoice, the finale ‘Gotta Get Away’ sounds like a bad combination of Bruce Springsteen and Kid Rock, complete with a twangy, cowbell-fueled country line dancing beat. It’s about hitting the road and looking for love in places no one would ever want to go to. I can see this song ending a set with a three piece choir of heavy set black women beating on tambourines singing along. The teenie boppers are gonna fucking love it.

I think what did me in was hearing ‘Fever’ on the radio all the time. It’s catchy, I get it. Once you hear your mom go “Oh this song is so fun!” you lose it. I hate to sound like that hipster douchebag, but damn it these guys were so much better before they were cool. They had such a different sound, and I really miss it. Needless to say, I wasn’t a big fan of this album. Apparently I’m the only one though since everyone else seems to love it. Check it out anyways and listen for yourself, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Black Keys
‘Turn Blue’
© May 13th, 2014



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