Skip to main content

10th June 2014

Album: The Black Keys – Turn Blue

The Black Keys attempt evolution

Released May 12th

Nonesuch Records


The Black Keys are back with their eighth studio release Turn Blue. Announced via Mike Tyson’s Twitter it seems they’ve evolved… although it lacks punch. At the very least they’ve borrowed some keyboards in an effort to expand the sonic horizons of a two piece blues band. The results? It’s alright…

Turn Blue slithers rather than explodes into life with ‘Weight of Love’, a song my journalistic cliché book says would be perfect in a Tarantino film.  ‘In Time’ follows, a song dangerously similar in vocal melody to ‘Dead and Gone’ from previous release El Camino and a song which made me want to listen to the previous release more than this opening salvo.

After a slow burning introductory duo, eponymous track ‘Turn Blue’ is the first strong song. Patrick Carney’s uncharacteristically sparse drumming compliment gospel vocal production that make for an interesting listen. Unfortunately this is followed by ‘Fever’. A prime example of a band expanding their sound but overusing keys in an attempt to widen their horizons. The song features a bassline that reminds us why they were great without bass and a prog breakdown Brian Eno would write if he were asleep at the desk.

‘Year in Review’ smacks of El Camino, but is better for it. ‘Bullet in the Brain’ opens like a Tame Impala collaboration or a spaghetti western theme before we swiftly revert back to the Black Keys we know on ‘It’s Up to You Now’. This track can be described as jungle books drums and overused fuzz pedal. “I’m waiting on words” Auerbach wails on the aptly named ‘Waiting on Words’ which is a drab number followed up by inoffensive ’10 Lovers’ and ‘In Our Prime’.

The album closer is ‘Gotta Get Away’ the albums strongest tune. Reminiscent of T.Rex, it’s the kind of closer that makes you want to press repeat on the album… if only there were something worth repeating for.

Generally the album is an attempt at evolution, and the Black Keys deserve credit. The shortcoming of the album is in the strongest tracks are songs artists like Jack White knock out for fun. Also, and I’m sure this will divide the room, Auerbach’s wailed vocals wear thin south of track three. A fair whack at evolution from America’s favourite beat combo…

More Coverage

Bombay Bicycle Club live in Manchester: Indie heroes rise to the occasion

The alliterative heroes return to Manchester to tour their new album, My Big Day – and the results were pretty moving

Matt Maltese’s Broken Hearts Club live in Manchester: ‘I forget if I ever loved anyone else’

Emotions run high at Academy 2 with a moving set from Matt Maltese in Valentine’s week

Pip Blom live in Liverpool: A new era for the Euro-indie ensemble

In the small, intimate setting of Liverpool’s o2 Academy 2, Dutch indie band Pip Blom took to the stage on February 6 to mark the start of the UK leg of their tour

FIZZ Live in Manchester: Proof that best friends make the best bands

Known together as FIZZ, Dodie, Orla Gartland, Martin Luke Brown and Greta Issac brought their fever dream tour to Manchester, finding a spiritual home in the colourful indulgence