Album Review... The Black Keys - Turn Blue

Those swirls. Everything’s about those swirls - you can just feel them. Whether they’re to try to brainwash you into listening to The Black Keys eighth studio album (yes eighth!), or whether they’re part of the band’s new make up, they’re everywhere. At points they ooze from woozy guitar riffs, and at others they creep up on you before plummeting you into the deepest lyrics of the bands career, thus far.

‘Turn Blue’ is the eighth instalment from the Ohio duo and it comes off the back of a wave of success from previous album, ‘El Camino’. It was always going to be hard to follow up and ‘Weight Of Love’ demonstrates a slow and gruelling awakening for the ever ageing rockers before getting back into business. Dan Auerbach’s, recent divorce has proved a silver-lining, playing into the hands of the album as heart aching bluesy riffs cry out for a change of tone throughout. In amongst the usual stuff though are glimpses of change. ‘In Time’ wonderfully brings together mesmerising elements of Tame Impala, with a chorus that carries an Amy Winehouse attitude; you can see their sights firmly on those big festival slots to come. Elsewhere, third track ‘Turn Blue’ is a more chilled, lacklustre filler of a song, which sweats off Californian blues. 

The use of synth in lead single, ‘Fever’, sees smatterings of it occurring in ‘Bullet In The Brain’s’ glockenspiel type twist but the synth effect is over done a bit in ’10 Lovers’ as Auerbach’s howls are marred by the sound of someone squeezing the air out of a dog’s chew toy. ‘In Our Prime’ plays around the most though, with it’s bipolar tone between Beatle’s-esque dreamy vocals and full on whirring synth sending you back down the spiral from which ‘Fever’ sent you.

The Black Keys have never quite had that personality factor; the one which instantly connects an artist to their audience. For the first time you could confidently say that they’re working on that part of their game. In ‘Waiting On Words’, the high, close to ear piercing vocals could easily burst into some kind of Jamiroquai funk as Auerbach plays the role of a hopeless romantic once more who’s got too much funk to give a toss. ‘Gotta Get Away’ transfers the funk to David Bowie upbeat rhythms and you can almost, almost imagine the pair ditching their rusty instruments and strutting their stuff up and down a stage. 

‘El Camino’ had the nature of hiding a potential single around every corner. Whilst ‘Turn Blue’ isn’t blessed with the same ability, The Black Keys have gently pushed themselves away from their past seven albums and in fear of their sell by date running out, they’ve stepped towards a more pop-inspired future. Just how long it lives for, we’ll have to see.

The Black Keys - Turn Blue
Out of 10: 6.8/10

By Joshua Shreeve (@JJShreeve)

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