Turn Blue

Two and a half years is a pretty standard interim between albums for major rock acts, but preeminent blooz rockers the Black Keys have never gone longer between albums than the gap between the December 2011 release of El Camino and the impending May 2014 arrival of Turn Blue. For the Keys, it’s been an eternity, but one well-spent. Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach applied his production talents to artists ranging from Dr. John to Grace Potter & The Nocturnals to JEFF The Brotherhood, earning himself a Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical Grammy and the chance to oversee major 2014 projects by Lana Del Rey and Ray LaMontagne. He also managed to raise Jack White’s ire like no other. Keys drummer Patrick Carney has dabbled in some side projects of his own, producing for the Sheepdogs and Black Lips and drumming on every track of the forthcoming Rentals comeback LP. And if his production career hasn’t been quite as illustrious as Auerbach’s, his beef game is unmatched — just ask Nickelback, Van Halen, and especially the Beliebers.

All those extracurriculars are well and good, but Auerbach and Carney are best when teaming up to crank out classic rock of modern vintage. “Fever,” the first single from Turn Blue, presents their latest tweak to that formula. Built on slinky bass, piercing keyboards, and soulful, echo-laden falsetto, this could almost pass for new wave, but it’s still steeped in the rock ’n’ roll tradition that has been the Keys’ anchor since the beginning. The result is unlike any Keys song we’ve heard before — and for a band that has done its best work by expanding its horizons, that’s a good thing. Hear it below.

Regarding the album title, in press materials the Black Keys note that Turn Blue could refer to: A: Suffocation, B: Sadness, C: Numbness from extreme cold, D: A Cleveland late night TV host from the 1960s named Ghoulardi, or E: All of the above.

Turn Blue, which was produced by the band with Danger Mouse, is out 5/13 via Nonesuch. Here’s the tracklist:

01 “Weight Of Love”
02 “In Time”
03 “Turn Blue”
04 “Fever”
05 “Year In Review”
06 “Bullet In The Brain”
07 “It’s Up to You Now”
08 “Waiting On Words”
09 “10 Lovers”
10 “In Our Prime”
11 “Gotta Get Away”

Comments (63)
  1. I like it because it the Black Keys, I hate it because it sucks.

  2. erc  |   Posted on Mar 24th +20

    I can’t wait to see the commercial

  3. I think this is their bid for song of the summer 2014. Could see a lot of commercials using this….shoes, trendy clothes, McDonald’s, movie trailers, sports highlight reels.

  4. The first half had me a little disappointed, but the second half had me planning a road trip through the desert somewhere.

  5. Ehhhhhh….The Features do this sort of thing better. I really wish somebody would let Carney smash away on his drum kit like a maniac while just barely keeping rhythm again. That was always the strength of this band.

  6. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  7. I have a Fever, and the only cure….is another song other than this one.

  8. Its ok The Orwells just released another awesome single so we can sleep on that crap

  9. I can already tell its a grower

  10. The bandwagon they’re trying to jump on left like, 7 years ago.

  11. Wait, people dislike this?

  12. I feared it was going to be bad… but I had no idea it would be THIS bad. What in God’s name happened to this once incredible group?

  13. Cheesy as all hell.

  14. ..I hate that I’m starting to resent the Danger Mouse more and more for his influences on producing.

    • Seriously. I always considered him a favorite of mine, but what is he doing? He needs to take his foot off the pedal a little bit.

    • Agreed. Danger Mouse has made some very good albums, but he should not be messing with The Black Keys. Rome for instance was a great album but not in the style of The Black Keys. He has also made some shit albums…this song falls into the latter category.

  15. Boring. Danger Mouse has their music sounding like Broken Bells now. What a shame.

  16. I just do not like Danger Mouse’s production. Black Keys were better without him and so were Portugal. The Man and Beck. He just neuters the hell out of the drums on every thing he touches. I mean his stuff isn’t the worst, but his bag of tricks has just one trick in it.

    • I think Rob Harvilla put it best in his p4k review of El Camino when he said “everything’s a goddamn spaghetti western with this guy”.

    • You could’ve added “everything he touches” after “He just neuters the hell out of…” and this would be the best description of Danger Mouse. Also, the spaghetti western thing is pretty great too.

      Everything The Black Keys have done since teaming up with Danger Mouse has sounded exactly the same but incrementally worse with each release. In fact, the same could be said for DM’s general output.

      • Agreed. It used to be interesting to put a band through Danger Mouse’s filter just to hear what it would sound like, but then it became apparent that Danger Mouse was just making the same passable but wooden Danger Mouse record over and over again with different vocalists.

  17. Sounds like a below average remix of a Black Keys song.

    At least Jack White will have nothing to complain about here…

  18. Yeah this might be my least favorite Black Keys single ever. Pretty boring. Hopefully the rest of the album has more to offer.

  19. 2nd listen…yup still sucks. Look I like broken bells and all but….

  20. i don’t even need to listen to this. … the comments are great

  21. I’m gonna go listen to Thickfreakness.

    • I wonder what the reactions are from people who go to see them at big arenas expecting to hear songs like this and the last album when they bust out Do The Rump or something like that. It doesn’t even sound like the same band. I mean, every band evolves, but this is a pretty stark contrast.

      • I’ve never even thought about that. Have they left behind stuff like Busted, Do The Rump, Brooklyn Bound, and The Breaks?? If they were to play one of their dirty sloppy old songs, it would be very weird for a Brothers/El Camino type fan alright.

  22. I’m still holding out hope for this album and pulling for it to be some jammy far-out psych rock. Dan said that the first song clocks in at around 7 minutes so that’s a good sign.

  23. The JAck White version of his solo lp was WAYYYY BETTTTERRRRR. But this is good too.

  24. This song is the audible equivalent to Patrick Carney’s ubiquitous facial expressions, which resemble an unenthused donkey.

    Also, I agree with Elvis vs. Shark.

  25. edit: Patrick Carney’s EDITORIAL facial expressions.

  26. I love the garage rawness of their early days in the Rubber Factory, but I can understand that they’ve moved on and expanded their sound. I get it.

    But why can’t they do something more in the vein of Brothers? That album was a perfect album of how they could expand while keeping their bluesy, soulful roots. This is soul-less trash compared to anything on Brothers.

  27. Random unrelated question, since when does spin own Stereogum? did spin buy buzzmedia? :O oh boy

    • According to Wikipedia, BuzzMedia just rebranded themselves SpinMedia, but it’s the same company.

      • But prior to the rebranding, BuzzMedia did acquire Spin. So it’s less like Spin “owns” Stereogum and more like they are both owned by the same big media conglomerate that owns a big-ass chunk of the more relevant music/pop-culture sites.

  28. skow  |   Posted on Mar 25th +3

    The keys need to find another abandoned building to record in.

    Looking forward to the rest of the album regardless.

  29. Maybe I’m crazy, but I really like this.

  30. I’ve never been a huge fan of theirs, but I really don’t think this is as knee-jerkingly awful as a lot of people here seem to think? It’s not particularly remarkable, but is catchy, has a nice climax, and is different from their past stuff in a not horrendous way?

    Maybe I just don’t understand them.

  31. Black Keys albums best to worst:

    1. Rubber Factory
    2. Thickfreakness
    3. Brothers
    4. Magic Potion
    5. Attack and Release
    6. El Camino

    • That’s pretty spot on, besides the omission of The Big Come Up.

      Attack & Release is the most intriguing album to me, and even though it’s only their 5th or 6th best, I find myself liking it a lot. Danger Mouse definitely changed their sound with A&R, but he gave just the right touch of weirdness to make it awesome.

    • You forgot The Big Come Up, which is clearly their best (I know I know, opinion). Also, Chulahoma is always overlooked, and even though it’s a covers album, it’s an amazing covers album. “Meet Me in the City” is still my favorite thing they’ve ever done. They probably know that, too – when I saw them years and years ago in a small club I was drunk and was screaming that the whole time. It was probably really annoying for everyone. In the end, they didn’t play it.

  32. Only thing DM I like is the Norah Jones cd. For that the atmospherics work, but not for straight ahead rock n roll.

    DM is the new Daniel Lanois.

  33. Booker T wants his organ back.

  34. It just not the same im dissapointed

  35. Band is pretty boring. the hype makes less and less sense to me every album. Sue me : /

  36. Well, It’s no ‘Gold On The Ceiling’ is it…:(

  37. Gassy Trolls + Empty Stomachs = Fire in the Belly!

  38. Have they been hanging out with The Killer ?

  39. The Killers !!!!!!

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