Album Review: Turn Blue by The Black Keys
By: John Barnum
The Black Keys
9 May 2014
At the rise of the new millennium, a new sound was born in Akron, Ohio; as the first decade of that new millennium ended, that sound was heard worldwide and “The Black Keys” invaded everyone’s Pandora radio stations. On May 13th, we were allowed to witness their next stage of evolution through the release of Turn Blue, their eighth studio album. In collaboration with Danger Mouse, The Black Keys have created an album that blends their notorious blues-rock style with a psychedelic twist. Overall, this album is pretty damn good.
That psychedelic twist is first established by the cover, which is saturated in optical illusions in light blue (go figure) and red. Upon opening, you find more optical illusions and, instead of a book of lyrics, a small poster of the cover essential to the garage of any Black Keys aficionado. Because we aren’t allowed clarification on the songs’ lyrics, that ambiguity adds to the sense of altered perception that reverberates throughout the CD.
As for the CD; the intro song, “Weight of Love,” helps set the tone in a style very reminiscent to a Mr. Jimi Hendrix. As the song progresses we hear the familiar guitar riffs and drums that we have come to know and love from The Black Keys. Starting out slow, the song speeds up and gives us enough guitar solos and vocals (more of the former than the latter) to completely sweep us away. The song ends with an eerie tone that may leave chills in the listener. Nonetheless the CD seamlessly progresses to the next song “In Time” which echoes the tone of the last in a more dynamic and vivacious way. By the time the album titled song “Turn Blue” plays, it is clear that this is not the same Black Keys that made the song “Gold on the Ceiling.”
Once we are completely chilled out, Dan and Patrick (and Brian) get our blood pumping with the song “Fever” (which you may or may not have heard on the radio). The song (like a fever) possesses us, forcing our fingers to and fro, bringing our foot up and down, causing us to bob our heads uncontrollably…this illness does not dissipate quickly once you are infected. Symptoms include: repeated voluntary exposure to “Fever,” singing (singing “fever!” humming the rest) in the shower, and people being annoyed by your continued humming.
The rest of the album continues as it did before this infectious intermission, until the final song “Gotta Get Away.” This song took me completely by surprise, so much so that I chuckled several times throughout the song. If you ever wanted to hear Dan Auerbach sing a country song, then this song is perfect for you. Once I got over my shock, I actually found this song quite entertaining and (like most country songs) I found myself mindlessly chanting the chorus without my awareness. My bias against the country genre initially caused me to have an aversion to the song, but once I got over it I realized that it actually wasn’t that bad of a song. Depending on your preference, you may love this song, or you may utterly despise it; regardless, there is no denying the talent these artists display by this boast of musical range.
Recommended if you like: The Heavy, Arctic Monkeys (at least their latest album), The White Stripes, The Raconteurs (Jack White in general), or Kings of Leon.
Album Highlights: Weight of Love, Turn Blue, Fever, It’s Up to You Now, 10 Lovers, and (reluctantly) Gotta Get Away. (Keep in mind that I would highlight all of them if I could)
1. Weight of Love
2. In Time
3. Turn Blue
5. Year in Review
6. Bullet in the Brain
7. It’s Up to You Now
8. Waiting on Words
9. 10 Lovers
10. In Our Prime
11. Gotta Get Away