Erm, so… I don’t really know what to say. This review was always inevitable, and to be quite honest, I thought it’s content would be as well, and yet I feel nothing more than trepidation at the beginning of it. If you’ve followed Mojo20, and especially Mojo20.com, you’ll know that we don’t normally deal with negativity, or bad reviews. If something isn’t necessarily to our taste, it’s very, very rare for us to comment on it and take up our own time on pushing the point how much we dislike it, only to go and force our opinion on you, the unsuspecting public. But be all of that as it may, we are here to review the long-awaited return album by one of the world’s hottest bands, if not the absolute hottest. The Black Keys.
Turn Blue was released earlier in May 2014, and is the eighth studio album by the Ohio duet. With a huge back catalogue now, spanning back to 202’s ‘The Big Come Up’, they’ve never disappointed and only ever strengthened as a band with ever release. Their last effort was 2011’s ‘El Camino’ which was a huge success in my eyes, and served as both an album full of back to back rock n roll party tunes and gritty guitar based floor fillers, but also a satisfying listen for Black Keys fans, that love their bluesy, edgy sound. It didn’t disappoint anybody, and therefore ‘Turn Blue’ is almost definitely going to be as impressive, surely.
Well the LP kicks of with ‘Weight of Love’, a down tempo blues number with a two-minute instrumental introduction, and it’s a good song but not mind-blowing to say the least. The vocal flow is the most impressive bit. It’s put together well in that respect but the rest is forgettable. Moving on swiftly to track number two which is notable mainly in the fact that it appears to be a direct rip off of ‘Dead and Gone’ which was track two on the last album. How strange, right? It’s kind of quirky if you look at it in a different regard, but again there’s not much more to be said about it, apart from Vocalist Dan Auerbach’s falsetto vocals make an appearance, which is always quite welcome. Moving on to track three, the title track from the album and again we don’t see any huge rise in tempo, or grit, or anything. In fact if anything, we’ve slowed down again. Three tracks and not even a hint of a track similar to previous triumphs ‘Girl is on my Mind’, ‘Lonely Boy’, Tighten Up, ‘Strange Times’ etc. So surely it’s coming soon right? Well ‘Turn blue’ is a good song in all fairness, and so far, you’ll have noticed, how I’m more just indifferent to it all, I don’t hate anything yet, there hasn’t been any bad songs, but nothing has grabbed me yet, or moved me, or even made me that pleased I forked out eight pounds on iTunes for the privilege. So we’ll keep digging…
Oh look out, just in time, here comes the first single release from the album, ‘Fever’. With no end of radio play and club night exposure already, this song has become one of the biggest of the year and too right as well. It’s Black Keys at their best, but with an added ingredient of slightly synthesised sound layered over that already perfect combination of Auerbach’s guitar and Patrick Carney’s drums. It’s a new evolution for the Black Keys, and it works so well. But it has to be noted that up until now, this album has felt like nothing more than filler. I certainly hope things pick up, going forwards. Next track ‘Year in Review’ keeps the standard up and sounds like pure, unaltered Black Keys, and there are a few more decent songs that carry the same power that we were looking for, even if not to the extent we expected.
One immediate favourite off the album and along with ‘Fever’, it can probably be considered a highlight, ‘It’s Up To You Now’ has a bit of a ‘Not Fade Away’ by Buddy Holly vibe to it and was literally the only one I found on the album on first listen that I thought I’d like to play at Transmission. On second listen, the last track on the album ‘Gotta Get Away’, is also a highlight, and is actually quickly becoming a favourite with its catchy, up-tempo beat, and slightly lighter, less edgy demeanour. Odd placement for one of the better tracks on the album, and it should probably feature a little earlier on in the album, but then again what do I know, when I get to my eighth album, maybe I’ll send some advice their way.
Never done this before, but the only way I can really sum this album up, other than stating my somewhat indifference, and slight disappointment as a big fan of these guys, the best way to do it, is a good old-fashioned ‘a number’ out of ten sort of thing so here it is. ‘Turn Blue’ get’s a tepid… Six out of Ten from me…. gutted.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)