Turn Blue by The Black Keys MAG

May 19, 2014
By RowdyPhilosopher BRONZE, North Attleboro, Massachusetts
RowdyPhilosopher BRONZE, North Attleboro, Massachusetts
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Life only makes sense backwards, but it must be lived forwards." -Soren Kierkegaard

The Black Keys have always posed an interesting conundrum for critics. On one hand, this is a band made up of two guys who went from riding around in a rust-bucket El Camino and earning dough performing in local country barrooms to churning out hockey stadium anthems and playing on “SNL.” On the other hand, it has never been clear just how seriously we are supposed to take their music. Most critics have been slightly dismissive of the Black Keys' tendency to work within such a limited – and somewhat dated – aesthetic sphere as rock 'n' roll blues.

On their eighth studio LP, “Turn Blue,” drummer Patrick Carney and vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach have one clear message: We are meant to be taken seriously. The opening song, “Weight of Love,” is an unpredictable seven-minute roller-coaster that jolts us back and forth between searing guitar lines and a spacey, ethereal backdrop. It sounds like modern Pink Floyd.

“Turn Blue,” the title track, is a bluesy, synth-driven night anthem perfect for falling asleep to. It sounds like something the Rolling Stones would have done had they only owned a laptop. And this is just what the album does so well – it unites the future with the past, taking on a new style but paying homage to classic rock greats along the way.

The album is not without personal references – the bitter aftertaste of Auerbach's recent divorce conspicuously underscores the 11 tracks. By the grand finale, “Gotta Get Away,” in which Auerbach sings, “I went from San Perdue to Kalamazoo / just to get away from you,” the whole thing can start to feel, at least lyrically, like one big hard-boiled kiss-off; some form of revenge was clearly on his mind during the songwriting. This is blues rock, however, and the Black Keys are not a group to expect much from lyrically. The duo prefers to let the music speak for itself.

At a time when most big rock reinventions are beginning to feel like clunky diversions into electronics and music without substance, “Turn Blue” provides a refreshing listen, in large part because no one really expected the Black Keys to deliver such a powerful punch after 2012's immensely popular “El Camino.” And while it may not be as catchy or radio-friendly as its predecessor, the Danger Mouse-produced treatise nonetheless proves a challenging but rewarding listen.

The author's comments:
It was a unique shift in direction from a good but relatively tiresome group, and new shifts in direction always make for interesting reviews.

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This article has 1 comment.

Mckay ELITE said...
on Jun. 15 2014 at 9:41 pm
Mckay ELITE, Somewhere, Virginia
146 articles 0 photos 2260 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
—Apple’s “Think Different” commercial, 1997
“Crazy people are considered mad by the rest of the society only because their intelligence isn't understood.”
― Weihui Zhou

Interesting review. I enjoyed how you went back and forth, good and bad, throughout this whole review. However, a few minor things I kind feel impelled to clarify. 1. Critics do love The Black Keys. (Of course, not all of them; mainly mainstream critics.) a. Their albums receive mainly favorable reviews. Rolling Stones usually awards them 4/5 stars. 4.5 for Turn Blue. b. El Camino won Best Rock Album at the 55th Grammys. (They've won 7 Grammys in total.) 2. This isn't their 8th LP. It's their 8th studio album. Honestly, it's not a big error. Just a technicality. >.>   Regardless, I enjoyed reading your review. 


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