When isn’t there a good time to listen to The Black Keys? Brothers is a perfect road trip disc to accentuate the vigor and excitement of exploring. You can throw on your Attack and Release LP for poker night and El Camino is best suited for cookouts and get-togethers. And on and on and on, you get the point. Throughout their catalog (including Dan Auerbach’s solo jaunt) the Akron, Ohio duo create an addictive, blues rock sound ideal for any mood or setting. And while Turn Blue falls short on the replay factor, opting for drawn out solos and jams more suited for the ’70s, it still holds up for the niche fan looking for a different, retro sounding version than they’re used to hearing from Auerbach and Carney.
When I first heard “Fever” on the radio, I couldn’t help but notice the throwback guitar and keyboards. What I thought would be a distinct sound on the album became a prevailing theme throughout the album. “Bullet in the Brain” focuses heavily on airy guitar that bends and bends, while “Waiting on Words” and the intro song “Weight of Love” maintains the slow-and-steady pace that culminates eventually, showing a more patient Black Keys paying homage to the far-out sounds from forty years ago.
For those stubborn fans not adept to this specific change (like me), not all is lost. The duo fades back into their roots towards the end of the album. On three of the final five songs, you’re treated with what you’d naturally expect. “It’s Up To You Now” is a simple, blues-based rock track you would’ve guess came from an Auerbach solo album. While “10 Lovers” certainly has the old school keyboard in the intro and chorus, the backbone of the song showcases a vocals-and-bass hominy that’s impossible to dislike. My personal album favorite is the closer “Gotta Get Away.” Listen to it twice and you’ll be singing the chorus up until you fall asleep, it’s that good.
In a recent interview, Auerbach discussed the bands attempt in making Turn Blue into a “headphones album.” I’m afraid the guys missed the mark on that as well, seeing as their newest offerings would be more aptly suited for the stage. Still, there must be numerous fans, both diehards and fringe fans alike, wanting a new direction. For them, Turn Blue may just hit the mark. Unfortunately, I cannot see myself picking their 2014 album for a spin when given the option of jamming out to their previous efforts.