Review: The Black Keys – “Turn Blue”


The Black Keys
Turn Blue

Nonesuch Records – May 13th 2014
By Joshua Khan (@blaremag)
Find it at: iTunes | Insound | Official Store



It’s felt like a century since The Black Keys let their freak-stained rhythms fly on Live In Austin, TX and to an extent, their work as production guys (Jessica Lea Mayfield, Tennis, Hanni El Khatib) has even found a way to suppress their DIY skip into the pop cosmos. But dialed in, Turn Blue is an unfiltered account of their appetite for gnarly, bone-in blues. The chart slashers and physical garage cuts are still there as they’ve eloquently found a way to coexist since Attack & Release, they’re just running on a fresh high – “Fever” and “Year In Review” are stimulating Danger Mouse benders, “Turn Blue” is a pictorial psych tease, and “It’s Up To You Now” slips in as a grimy, riff-heavy balls dropper.

It is disconcerting to see the pair continue to work out feathery, made-for-Prius tracks but the Keys don’t dumb down a single groove. Much like bits of Magic Potion and Keep It Hid, Auerbach taps into a thicker layer of alt blues – digging through a messy divorce and “a worried heart” only to materialize out of the black with Carney roughhousing his drum kit from every angle. It sounds like cheese, especially when “Gotta Get Away” is a splash of Cheap Trick, but the duo’s work on “Weight Of Love” is the closest thing human beings will get to Zep’s “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You”. It slides for seven minutes, dead serious and contemplative, as sticks flutter next to a familiar twang before a gust of fret-play picks up speed and blindly ricochets off the admission “You’ll be on my mind”. It’s not as glossy as some of the other sections of Turn Blue but despair isn’t pleasant. As most already know, it hurts like hell.

Listen: “10 Lovers”, “Weight Of Love”, “Waiting On Words”, “In Our Prime” || Watch: “Fever”

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