ALBUM REVIEW: Black Keys give way to ‘Blue’

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First Posted: 6/17/2014

It is perfectly understandable how one can be of two minds when it comes to The Black Keys.

On one hand, the disdain Jack White harbors for the duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney is shared by more than a few music fans who might recognize the air about the Grammy-winning pair from Akron, Ohio, and their ascent into the upper echelons of superstardom on the coattails of The White Stripes. Some might compare it to the way Stone Temple Pilots caught the “grunge” wave five minutes after the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were hitting their stride in the mainstream ocean.

But on the other side of the bitcoin, there is a raw purity to the Keys when they are at the peak of their powers that taps into that rubicon of scholarly blues knowledge, which surely makes Mr. White bristle in a fashion similar to a pitcher seeing his rival on the mound throwing knuckleballs just as fast and precise as his own.

And with this eighth full-length, Auerbach and Carney show us exactly why they are always on Jack’s mind.

Working once again with Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, “Turn Blue” filters the primal essence of the duo’s Alive Records salad days through the kind of dark pop mojo Auerbach brings to the new Lana Del Rey LP. The Keys have always exhibited a remarkable cognition for Hall and Oates’ theory of rock and soul, but never have they quite relished in the slow burn groove the two give off on tracks like album opener “Weight of Love” and the hypnotic “Bullet in the Brain.” Even when they turn up the heat as they do on lead single “Fever” and the gospel-tinged “In Our Prime,” they are doing it with a sway never heard on a Black Keys record before.

Like “The Big Come Up” and “Brothers” before it, “Turn Blue” is proof that despite any smack talk from the competition, The Black Keys bring the pain with the best of them when they have their game faces on.

The Black Keys ‘Turn Blue’ Rating: W W W W