‘Turn Blue’ from The Black Keys gives listeners a bombastic blast from the past


Katie Little

the-black-keysFor a two-man music group, the sound that the Black Keys has packed into their new album, “Turn Blue,” is nothing short of spectacular. To even be consistent with their previous work was a tall order, considering their solid body of work which includes albums such as “Thickfreakness” and “Brothers” and how their previous album, “El Camino,” launched the not-so-new duo into new stardom and earned three Grammys.

And just as this dynamic duo of rockstars clearly put serious effort into churning out this album, which is nothing short of a masterpiece, it should be expected that its listeners put effort into experiencing this album as well, as it’s packed with songs that can be truly gripping.

Dan Auerbach, guitarist and singer, deemed “Turn Blue” as a “headphone record.” If the listener chooses to listen to the record in the midst of noisy traffic and a buzzing engine or through “high quality” computer speakers, that listener will be missing out on this thoughtfully, note-for-note beautifully crafted album.

Within seconds of the first song, “Weight of Love,” the listener’s environment is completely transformed, as the acoustic guitar paints a picture of a desertous scene, where cowboys and tumbleweeds into a deep, rich sunset in the wild west. Drummer, Patrick Carney, eases his way into the song, and there’s nowhere to go but up.

The stage has been set with this nearly seven minute song. The energy slowly transforms, like a giant woken from slumber and picking up momentum, leading to the dramatic “shoot out” scene. Before the end, there aren’t one, or two, but three guitar solos (each one more blistering and longer than the last) in this titanic-like song.

Many songs of the album, such as “Bullet in the Brain,” capture a world from 40 years ago, where lava lamps, vinyl records, and beanbag chairs peak in popularity. It’s clear where this album got its roots, as there are distinct similarities between the sounds in this album and psychedelic-rock albums such as “The Wall” or “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Other songs, such as the first album’s first single, “Fever,” or “10 Lovers” take a different direction and pack on a more “disco-esque” vibe that seems more similar to dancefloor tracks that are popular today. However, as it was stated by the band that it wasn’t a goal of theirs to produce singles, rather focus on producing a consistent album, the songs still pack a punch that’s consistent with the rest of the album.

And still, there are even more directions in which this album takes itself. Songs like “Year in Review” and “Gotta Get Away,” while still managing to create that vintage sound, give off a garage band sound. These tracks are also much more similar to what a Black Keys album traditionally sounds like, which may give older fans who aren’t as appreciative of this new album what they’re looking for.

It’s amazing how many different sounds were packed into the album; it’s even more amazing how well all these different sounds were so well pulled off. It’s clear that Auerbach and Carney, have produced a clean, smooth album, which can easily contend with the rest of their solid body of work over the years. It was a bold, ambitious move to take from so many different genres and areas of rock and roll for this single album, but overall, it’s a fantastic contribution to the history of rock and roll.