Music Advisor: The Black Keys’ ‘Turn Blue’



The Black Keys
Turn Blue

STACK Magazine says: “The Ohio boys are The Black Keys, and from the grubby garage blues they first (brilliantly) espoused in their 2003 breakout Thickfreakness, the latest twist in their musical tale shows us just how far-reaching their visions go. New album Turn Blue begins with their longest ever track, Weight of Love, which instantly brings the Air-penned Virgin Suicides soundtrack to mind: vibraphone with hard and soft mallets in unison, eerie and dark guitar, booming toms and then that echoing voice of Auerbach’s, which we know so dear. That strangeness permeates the album, bringing a Pink Floyd vibe to many of the tracks including Year in Review, which features syncopated, marching snare and strings both bowed and plucked, and Bullet in the Brain, a prog-rock treasure. The tracks that meander rest confidently on Carney’s hipshot drumming, but there are still driving gems here. It’s Up to You Now gives us that fuzz bass from previous record El Camino (2011), and partway through the guys change to a fat half-time beat which your pulse falls in time with straight away. We’re also treated to the catchy synth toots of singleFever, and the belter of a closer Gotta Get Away is going to be on everyone’s lips for the rest of the year: “I went from San Berdoo to Kalamazoo / Just to get away from you / I searched far and wide hoping I was wrong / But maybe all the good women are gone.”

The Guardian says: “For all its musical diversity, Turn Blue never sounds incoherent. That’s partly because the songs are drawn together by the album’s ongoing lyrical preoccupations: perhaps understandably, given that it was written in the wake of Auerbach’s messy divorce, there are enough recriminatory warnings about the vagaries of romance here to last a lifetime. But it’s mostly because Turn Blue never stops sounding like the Black Keys. However the songs are embellished, however radio-friendly the choruses or stadium-sized the dynamics, the tight-knit relationship between Auerbach’s guitar and Carney’s breakbeat-heavy drumming is always at their centre. The result is polished and commercial, without feeling craven or compromised, an impressive stunt to pull off.” (4 Stars)

Pitchfork says:While the suffocating weightlessness of the LP’s first third is enough to give anyone who’s listened to a Broken Bells record more than once a serious case of PTSD, Carney and Auerbach sound as if they’re holding back in response, succumbing to bland choruses and muddy aimlessness despite the fact that their catalog dictates they’re capable of much more than this. Throughout Turn Blue, it’s difficult to tell how invested these guys actually are in the music they’re making, an indifferent attitude that encourages the listener to act in tandem.” (5.8/8.0)

Gotta Get Away – The Black Keys from William Slane on Vimeo.

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