4 Out Of 5 Stars
While The Black Keys were always something of a glorified garage band, it's no surprise that they'd eventually delve in to the psychedelical forms of the 60's garage bands. Think "96 Tears" or "Journey To The Center of Your Mind." So the question isn't so much as what The Black Keys are doing with the spacy sounds that scatter through "Turn Blue," It's more like, "What took you so long?" Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, along with producer Danger Mouse, delve deep in the a psychedelic swamp and emerge with a mighty fine album that is sure to polarize. The album is still primarily the guitars and drums, but the crunch is replaced by woozy synths and female backing singers.
The opener, "Weight Of Love," puts it all out there. Straight up blues with touches of Pink Floyd spaciness, it's a mission statement. The band wants to expand their musical horizons and blow your mind at the same time. Ditto the single, "Fever." It's as sugary as it is spacy, while still pinned down by the guitar/drums of the Black Keys basic sound. Such mixtures run rampant all over "Turn Blue," be it the dreamy build up to a punchy "Bullet In The Brain" to the funky "10 Lovers," or the jungle drums of "It's Up To You Now," this album is The Black Keys tweaking their sound to a slightly different color palette.
But if you were missing the big guitars, then hang in there for the album's closer. "Gotta Get Away" has a big guitar hook raging on top of Danger Mouse's organ, landing the most basic rock on "Turn Blue." Complete with one of Dan's buzzing solos, it's just their way of saying they've still got their guts in the rock and roll of their previous albums. Love it or hate it, "Turn Blue" catches the Black Keys getting courageous enough to deliver an album that punches and floats, often in the same song.