Turn Blue by The Black Keys

Released: May 13, 2014

The Black Keys | Turn Blue | Rating: 10 / 11 | By: Rodney Schmidt |

The Black Keys have partly ditched the blues riffs and straight rock and roll sound for some classic pedal-pushing grooves in their new album, Turn Blue. The classic drum beats and prolonged strums on lower frets still bleed in the songs, but now there are some head swaying jazz riffs with rich synthesizers in the background that is sure to get your attention.

Many bands fail to branch off from their original sound, but The Black Keys have not. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd would take note of the smart sounds that blaze from each song on this record. The album is a direct acknowledgment of the ‘Keys lead singer’s (Dan Auerbach) current divorce and the blue state of his being during the production of this record. Song titles like “Weight of Love,” “Bullet in the Brain,” and “Gotta Get Away” address Auerbach’s current emotional state of being into a worthy sound for all to hear.

In March, fans were graced with the first hit off the record, “Fever.” The sound is pure to the bands past, except one thing: the synthesizers are more prevalent than ever – which is okay. There are catchy chimes ringing throughout the “Fever” chorus; don’t be surprised if remixes are made of this, it’s danceable. However, this lead off single is a bad representation for the rest of Turn Blue as it does not fully exhibit the excellent entertainment that comes with the album.

Because the album is emotionally stimulating, colors are prevalent in the perceptibly simple titled track “Turn Blue.” A simple high-hat snare beat is blended with a bass line that sounds a lot like Knight Rider‘s theme at a slower tempo. It’s mellow and possible reminiscent to any heartbroken listeners. Lines like “I will remember the times when love would really glow,” help to define the melancholy position of “Turn Blue.” It’s a sound that is very close to what the producer (Danger Mouse) brings to the table on most records: slow intros and high vocals at the end of each line. “Turn Blue” is worthy of attention from the despondent and tender listeners.

However, the defining track of the album would have to be “Bullet in the Brain.” It’s a strong title for a strong song. The song starts with an uncomplicated acoustic guitar riff; confusion starts to build as the song progresses into a psychedelic ring and, finally, anger picks up as the song recovers from the mellow time signatures and the bass changes the sad disposition into acceptance. Solid lyrics like “Bullet in the brain/I prefer than to remain the same,” are an obvious choice of thought for a dejected soul. The song sounds depressing, but it’s actually a great recounting of the stages in a failing relationship. “I let you use my gifts/To back your lying wits/I’ll never know just what I did for it.” The song exhibits the bands ability to incorporate various levels of sound into one song. It’s simply a trip, and one worth taking to hear the bands next level of talent shown off in this song.

There are countless albums with one hit on them, but Turn Blue is not one of them. It is packed with great tracks that will take away that stale taste left by bands that do the same thing over and over. The sound is a mix of everything good that came from music in the last fifty years. Turn Blue is like a bowl of chicken noodle soup on a cold day: it’s just the right sound for the right time that people will love.