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The Black Keys ‘Turn’ toward synth-y, shiny electro-blues

MOVE reviews The Black Keys’ “Turn Blue”

By Michael Weinstein | June 21, 2014

Tags: Music Reviews

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The title of The Black Keys’ eighth studio album, “Turn Blue,” is a double entendre. Lead singer Dan Auerbach meanders on about his relationship issues throughout the album, but “Turn Blue” also represents a sharp deviation in style for the Akron, Ohio rockers, who collaborated with Danger Mouse for the album.

Danger Mouse’s presence and the optical illusion on the cover tip us off that the band’s blues sound will merge with more psychedelic overtones. The first two songs do just that, providing sparse, haunting lyrics that build to the title track, which gives us our first taste of their mesmerizing confluence of blues rock and synth-heavy electronica.

The album then rotates somewhat aimlessly between electronic-influenced blues for a few tracks when it comes to “Bullet in the Brain,” which is the most grandiose and expressive track on the album. Here Auerbach sings, “Bullet in the brain/I prefer than to remain the same.” While it directly relates to the relationship issues he sings about earlier in the album, it may also mean his willingness to change styles and experiment with new sounds.

The album continues along a similar path for the next few songs, and comes to an unexpected close with “Gotta Get Away.” The song is similar to “Bound 2” on Kanye’s “Yeezus,” a complete throwback to their earlier work. “Gotta Get Away” is pure fun, and if it were released earlier in their career, it could probably be one of their larger hits.

Overall, “Turn Blue” is a masterful blending of two different genres, electronic and blues rock. It is a step forward for the band, and while it lacks a hit single that will dominate airwaves, it is worthy of a thorough and investigative listen.

MOVE gives “Turn Blue” 4 out of 5 stars.

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