The Black Keys Turn ‘Blue’
We’re in your buddy’s basement, lucky Pink Floyd shirt and all. The Black Keys are performing their newest project, “Turn Blue.” With a strong heart and psychedelic soul, Dan Auerbach on vocals and guitar and Patrick Carney on drums muster their gritty texture with trademark grooves. The album’s lead single “Fever,” is driven by a true rock ‘n roll bass-line. With the accompaniment of dancey tambourines and a playful synthesizer, Auerbach and Carney rally a dance party in an otherwise slow and lethargic journey. These boys aren’t afraid to experiment, which they artfully and bravely display. From the sensual love ballad in “Waiting on Words,” to the Rolling Stones-esque “Gotta Get Away,” The Black Keys recognize everything that was good about the 60s and 70s and embrace the future of sound.
Starting the journey off slow with “Weight of Love,” the bass gently caresses out each note which is matched with suave vocals and glass chimes, and of course, the time capsule that is the guitar solos. We continue our path through the decades with “In Time” and “Turn Blue” which take us to a dark and smoky cafe in Akron, Ohio, where the headlining Coachella duo got their blues influences.
“Year in Review” includes background vocals provided by a chorus of sirens, adding just the right amount of femme in stark contrast to Dan’s gruff, but melodic, voice.
“Bullet in the Brain” is a change of pace. Though much slower, this track in particular is much catchier than its brothers, due to the hard hitting crash and the haunting chorus. “It’s Up to You Now” brings back that signature gritty guitar and almost tribal rhythm. “10 Lovers” is the much needed moody “one that got away” type of song, which celebrates the union between kick drum and synthesizer. “In Our Prime” showcases a tastefully added piano to sweeten Dan’s sorrowful voice.
The last track, “Gotta Get Away,” is the perfect wrap-up song. The upbeat finale ties together the different elements that were highlighted in different tracks throughout the album, again uniting tambourine, sweet vocals, soulful riffs, and rock ‘n roll drums that would make Charlie Watts proud. The final track is the sweet victory and the Bender freeze frame fist in the air.
The Black Keys, are named in tribute to their fathers’ schizophrenia-stricken friend, Alfred McMoore. McMoore would call Dan and Patrick’s fathers and always exit the conversation with “Don’t be a black key. Don’t be a B-flat.” It was his way of saying that the black keys sounded dissonant, or insulting someone. The pair named their band in honor of him and also set up a nonprofit in his name in Akron that helped take care of him in a halfway house until McMoore passed in 2009.
Not only have the Black Keys been able to produce a sensational new album, they have also been able to stay incredibly rooted and humble. Even once they started to become well known, the band continued to record their music in an old abandoned tire factory to give their albums that classic grit. They enjoy the simple things in life: cheeseburgers, mint chip ice cream, Kermit the Frog, and making quality music for the masses that reminds us of what it feels like to be home. This album is the rocket that will launch these local boys into superstardom.
Recommended: The Black Keys maintain their original indie style with their newest experimental album.