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Album review: The Black Keys - Turn Blue

20th May 2014
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The Black Keys are back and a little different. But that’s certainly not a bad thing.

The Black Keys - Turn Blue

Turn Blue kicks off at a much gentler pace to the duo’s last few outings with ‘Weight of Love’ but with Patrick Carney’s masterful drum skills and their standard smooth blues guitar you know this is still The Black Keys we all know and love.

Despite being another gem of an album, Turn Blue, aside from first single ‘Fever’ is relatively lacking when it comes to potential radio big-hitters.

Much like the titular second single ‘Turn Blue’, many of the tracks are more laid back than some of the more raucous soul of other releases.

Whilst this record makes for some great casual , chilled listening, it’s somewhat lacking in the hard hitting rock anthems which made Brothers and El Camino such great radio fodder.

Dan Auerbach himself has stated that the duo decided to turn their focus away from making singles this time around, instead favouring the creation of what he has described as a ‘headphone record’. This new approach certainly shows, this isn’t the kind of album you let flow out of your car stereo with the windows wound down, it’s much more the kind of album you let yourself wind down to after a long day at the office or lecture theatre.

It’s been a long three years since the duo’s last release, a longer wait than usual, which may be partly explained by front-man Auerbach’s very public and very messy divorce. The impact of the split can be felt throughout Turn Blue, which looks to have been a good creative outlet for Auerbach’s emotions.

From the painfully obvious ‘Bullet in the Brain’ right through to the mournful lyricism of ‘In Our Prime’, Dan’s true feelings about his estranged ex-wife Stephanie Gonis are laid out for all to see. “The house it burned but nothing there was mine / we had it all when we were in our prime”, he laments in reference to Gonis’ attempted arson at the family home just last year.

It’s not all heartbreak and despair however as the emotional lyrics are contrasted by an upbeat, soulful energy throughout.

This glass half-full rollercoaster response of optimism in the face of heartbreak ends wonderfully with ‘Gotta Get Away’a delightfully cheesy and ever so catchy Creedence Clearwater Revival-esque tune.

A breakaway from the norm for the duo, this record may lack the stadium shaking anthems that made their last two albums so popular, but it is still a fine piece of blues-rock grooviness and a must have for any self-respecting Black Keys fan.

Turn Blue is out now on NoneSuch records

Originally published on The Edge




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