The Black Keys "Turn Blue

The dynamic duo teams with producer Danger Mouse as they dissect a broken heart in psychedelic fashion.

Remember when The Black Keys were garage rock’s dynamic duo from the rust belt town of Akron, Ohio? It’s been twelve years since their debut, and while still a dynamic duo, they’ve grown beyond their roots. Turn Blue is a treasure trove of sounds that morph in mood and volume. Ear-piercing sonic boom anthems, slinky soul ballads, and pulsating blues percolate throughout. The overall pacing is mid-tempo, an unusual choice following the band’s break-through commercial success of its 2011 album El Camino. But then again, The Black Keys have never been your ordinary band, and life circumstances dictate what an artist produces.

Turn Blues documents the emotions following guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach’s acrimonious divorce. The music takes it direction from lyrics that are permeated with thoughts on regret, remorse, and broken trust. Setting the stage is the opening track “Weight of Love” which builds from slow grinding rhythms into a searing guitar solo and eruption of percussive waves. “In Time” is a sexy slink of soulful bass and electronic keyboard punctuated by Auerbach’s guitar interludes. There is a distinctly pschedelic persuasion to many of the songs, a swirling mixture of dense production and heavy guitar riffs.

The album’s first single, “Fever,” prominently displays the hand of producer Brian Burton, aka, Danger Mouse. The track could be an escapee from one of Burton’s other projects Broken Bells. It’s also the most up-tempo song on the album. Burton has produced four of the band’s eight albums and for the second consecutive release he receives songwriting credit, making him the de facto third member of the band.

At a time with Auerbach has gained a reputation as a sought after producer -he won a Grammy Award as Producer of the Year in 2012 and has produced for Dr. John, Lana Del Ray, and Ray Lamontagne – he chooses not to produce his own band’s album without help. Turn Blue was delayed due to Auerbach’s abrupt departure from the studio, but after rest and relaxation he returned to Sunset Sound Studios in California to complete the recording. The production was finished at his Nashville studio.

On a side note, although Carney and Auerbach have left their Akron roots behind they do pay homage to an Ohio legend, horror show host Ghoulardi (think Chilly Billy). One of Ghoulardi’s catch phrases was “Turn Blue” hence the album’s title.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)