The Black Keys turn blue

If the trippy pinwheel on the cover doesn’t tell you that the Black Keys’ new album is going to send you into inner space then the airy keyboarding will.  From the first atmospheric taps of the keyboard in “Weight of Love” to the last strums of the guitar in “Gotta Get Away,” Turn Blue is an entirely new experience.

When the Keys released the single, “Fever,” the album did not sound like it was going to be anything special.  In fact, it worried me that they were abandoning their blues roots once and for all.  The Black Keys’ new album does contrast their traditional sound—but absolutely not in as negative a way as I initially worried.

Turn Blue is certainly a change from the raw, rock sounds of say, Thickfreakness, but strikes as a positive regression from El Camino, their most successful and overplayed album.

The new album is catchy and surrounds you with heavy sound.  Light strums of the guitar and spacey keyboarding are not something typically associated with the Black Keys, but the psychedelic change only adds swagger and funk to their blues sound.  This is especially apparent on the first song of the album which ends in an awesome guitar solo: think Velvet Underground meets the White Stripes.

Throughout the album, Dan Auerbach, the lead singer, plays with falsetto—his voice is surprisingly harmless, and surprisingly, the keyboard is consistently played throughout.. The album is so wonderfully layered; it’s among the band’s bluesiest albums, yet it remains catchy and modern.

Turn Blue also hosts a greater variety of sounds and moods within their songs, ranging from indie rock in “Gotta Get Away,” to airy, moody, nostalgic tones in “In Our Prime.”  This variety is a component I always felt their past albums lacked, and being able to listen to every song and feel something different every time adds more intrigue to the album on a whole and eliminates redundancy.

It’s hard for bands to break out of a mold they have been fit into, and The Black Keys focus on commercial success was somewhat nerve-racking.  Yet, the duo has released an impressive album that keeps listeners on their toes by exploring new sounds, while returning to their blues roots, making Turn Blue the Black Keys’ latest classic.

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