The Akron duo have done it again- and done it right. The Black Keys released their long-awaited eighth studio album, Turn Blue, on May 9. Band members Dan Auerbach (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and Patrick Carney (drums, keyboard, percussion) recorded in New York City with Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, who with co-wrote and co-produced all 11 songs. He’s been a part of The Keys’ journey since Attack and Release (2008), which has been responsible for some of the group’s biggest moments, including their ground-breaking LP, Brothers.
Rolling Stone calls Turn Blue their “most consistently gripping album the Keys have ever made.” It is their first album to ever debt as #1 on Billboard 200 chart, El Camino peaking at number two and Brothers at number three. This time around their return was more anticipated than ever before– their world tour follow-up for the release has already sold out in several cities.
Not to sound too obvious, but Turn Blue is true to its title- being their most deeply blues-rooted album yet. There are mixes of 60’s soul and Midwestern garage punk, with a gripping upfront bass and hip-hop driven beats. It opens with a surprising seven minute mid-tempo, slow burning rock anthem “Weight of Love.” It is a return to their heavy blues influence and love-filled lyrics. “You’ll be on my mind/Don’t give yourself away/To the weight of love,” Auerbach sings in the opener.
Keys fans have watched the duo evolve their lyrical view of love from “Girl, I’ll never give you up,” to “That women’s done we wrong.” Even with the growing, and one can say “maturing” of lyrics, the Keys have never strayed from their roots. They are not necessarily known for being inventive, yet on Turn Blue, their brightest moments came when they experimented.
The forth song in, “Fever,” was first released as a single for the record, and to be frank, it is my least favorite song for the album. It is a catchy electro-driven pop anthem that scared many fans before the entire record was released. There were comments on their Facebook page for the video that read something like “What is this crap…” and “Where did the Black Keys go?” The only logical reason I can think of for releasing their least liked song first was to surprise fans even more with their most flawless work to date.
It moves in to “Bullet in the Brain,” that slowly moves from acoustic, western ballad to an up-beat jam of sizzling guitar solos by Aucherbach. Following “Bullet in the Brain” is one of my favorites, “Waiting on Words,” a moody, mid-tempo ballad that lets the duo show off their vulnerable side, with lyrics like “My love for you is real.” Directly following this acoustic driven song, comes curve-ball melody “10 Lovers.” It initially opens with a hip-hop beat and continues on with some funky keyboard melodies and higher pitched synth driven beat. It is nothing like they have done before and is where the album peaks as their most innovative yet.
However, the biggest surprise comes at the end with “Gotta Get Away.” It is the most energized blast of classic rock and, as Pitchfork reviewer Larry Fitzmaurice says, “It sounds like summer.” It strikingly sticks out on the album as one that is not soaked in moody-blues, and just sounds like the Keys are having fun. Their fun and heart-felt album is contagious and will leave fans new and old anything but disappointed.