Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Album Review: The Black Keys - Turn Blue

On their darkest and heaviest album yet, The Black Keys draw influences from their past albums while adding influences from new collaborations and styles. While elements of rock and blues from 2011’s El Camino still remain, personal hardships have added a more emotional and melancholy affect to the album.

The change in emotion on this album is to the credit of lead singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach’s recent split from his wife. The raw depression is most evident on “Weight of Love,” a ripping seven-minute track filled with lyrics of inner turmoil and Auerbach soloing, creating an outer space like vibe.

The spacey vibe that appears on multiple tracks over the course of the album is credit to producer Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, whose most recent work with Broken Bells shared the same space-like feel. Using synthesizers to create sounds of winds create a sense of loneliness, further adding to the emotional depth.

Instrumentally, Turn Blue seems to have gained some influence from Burton as well. The bass lines are much more pronounced over the album, and while they are simple, they add a lot of texture to the music. Synthesizers also make a more prominent appearance on the album. Patrick Carney’s drumming has become more complex, adding a new dimension to the music and allowing for more diversification of the band’s style.

Turn Blue shows The Black Keys pushing their archetypal blues-rock vibe to new bounds. Auerbach and Carney combine old with new to create a sonically beautiful and lyrically gripping album.

The Black Keys will play the PNC Arena in Raleigh on Friday, December 5. St. Vincent will open. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 16, via the venue box office and Ticketmaster for $35 to $75.

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