The Black Keys. Turn Blue.
Nonesuch, 2014. Black Keys: http://www.theblackkeys.com/
Okay, so these guys are on tour in Poland right now, so we can talk about them. We’re a little late hopping on board this disc (thanks, Mr. Editor!), but we’ll try to catch up with the rest of the world. Deep background: Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are Akron boys (Firestone High School) who formed the band in 2001, and released a batch of albums recorded in Carney’s basement. Good stuff, blues-based rock with chunks of soul and garage band, and they got famous and famouser. Break up, make up. Then, in pursuit of further fame and fortune, they relocated to Nashville in 2010 just before recording and getting Grammy Awards for Brothers. Some folks are still pissed at them for pulling a LeBron, but that’s life in the Rust Belt. And they come back regularly, so it’s not like they make believe they’re not from here.
On this album they have Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) back, who was with them on a couple of previous albums, starting with Attack & Release (2008). Maybe this is the reason they’re off on a psychedelic binge, but it sounds pretty good, regardless. Not that they don’t sound like themselves, with the usual distorted Auerbach vocals, but the blues takes a back seat on some tunes to some other influences. “Weight of Time” is straight out of the Book of Pink Floyd, “In Our Prime” gives us late Beatles filtered through blues-soaked brains--lots of cool guitar here. “Bullet in the Brain” is more psychedelia, slow and kind of sensual in a Moody Blues sort of way. But they still give us the stuff they’re known for on lots of tracks. “In Time” and maybe “Year in Review” would have fit on Brothers, and “Gotta Get Away” and “Fever” could be a garage rock leftovers from El Camino (and damned good ones too!). If you want percussion, “It’s Up to You Now” is your track. “Turn Blue” is a slow soul tune, and I was told the title is a riff on that old Ghoulardi character from Cleveland TV. The song is about love, so I suppose it has nothing to do with him. Not sure why, but "10 Lovers" sounds to me like a Phil Collins song. I guess what you like on this album depends on what you like about the Black Keys. If you’re into their down-and-dirty blues, this album might be a letdown. If you love their experimental side, this is golden. I like most of their stuff, so I’m just gonna let them drive and enjoy the ride.
I don’t suppose this review will influence anybody to listen and I haven’t said anything that hasn’t already been beaten out of the album by a thousand other reviews [Editor’s Note: Never assume.], but it’s a cool album and everybody should check it out.
Personnel: Dan Auerbach (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals), Patrick Carney (drums, keyboards, percussion), Brian Burton (keyboards, piano), Regina Ann (background vocals), Alfreda McCrary (background vocals).
Tracks: Weight of Time, In Time, Turn Blue, Fever, Year in Review, Bullet in the Brain, It’s Up to You Now, Waiting on Words, 10 Lovers, In Our Prime, Gotta Get Away.