The Black Keys - ‘Turn Blue’ Review [MD]


Track by Track Breakdown:

"Weight of Love": Fantastic start. Contemporized psychedelia with an emotional complexity and poignancy that is truly adult. Very expressive guitar work. Awesome bass sound. All the stylistic vectors—rock, blues, R&B, pop, soul—come together brilliantly.
Possibly their finest single track, but certainly tops on this release.

"In Time": Heavily R&B/soul influenced. Dan’s falsetto works here, but the synth washes/vamping interfere. Lots of cool discrete elements, but do they work as a whole? Maybe this one will grow on me.

"Turn Blue": More R&B and falsetto, with trippy synths thrown in for texture. Pretty flat "must continue on despite the heartbreak" stuff.

"Fever": Yes, well…catchy. Certainly the logical end product of the R&B pop of the preceding two songs. I like the cognitive dissonance of the depressive lyrics set to a mindlessly upbeat score, but in the end I’m left wondering, why this approach?

"Year in Review": Adds strings to the musical palette. A little Philly soul? This gets more effectively to the point musically than "Fever."

"Bullet in the Brain": A nice slice of slightly off-kilter pop-psych. The Chinese string effect is a cool, quesy, fun-house touch.

"It’s Up to You Now": A Bo Diddley beat drives this bit of garage psych up to the bridge, which ushers us into an electric psych-blues jam. No complaints.

"Waiting on Words": A song divided against itself. The opening falsetto verse just can’t be rescued by the infinitely superior chorus. I want to like this more than I do, but it just doesn’t gel.

"10 Lovers": Please make the falsetto stop. It’s inelegantly showy, coming off as almost comic, and wholly unnecessary, much like this song, which is a throwaway.

"In Our Prime": Back to the pop-psych, though in ballad form here. Builds nicely, and the time changes are generally effective. Expressive closing guitar solo. Again, no complaints.

Gotta Get Away”: Great seventies-style rocker/kiss-off song. CCR influenced? Yes. The falsetto as part of the chorus is definitely the way to go.

Overall, Turn Blue is thankfully not as bad as “Fever” suggested upon it’s release as a single, but it’s at best a partially satisfying listen. B-/C+. [MD]

I really wanted to make the worst thing, the thing that even people who liked bad, terrible music wouldn’t like, the stuff that people would ignore, always. Something really, really stupid. Something that is destined for failure.