REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

The Black Keys make the world pay attention with Turn Blue, one hell of an album!

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

The garage rock duo promote themselves to the big leagues with an 8
th album of refined, psychedelic glory. Whatever you call them, don't call them one trick ponies!


The Black Keys – Turn Blue (12/05/14 via Nonesuch)

I will openly profess to have never really made an effort to seek out The Black Keys before. On paper at least, they seemed like the kind of group I'd happily sit through at a festival, drunk on sunshine and warm cider, or tolerate as a support act, but nothing they'd put out before now had really grabbed me in any profound way. All that changed when I heard the latest single 'Fever' though. This was a song that had hit single written all over it (in a good way), with an opening synth hook so infuriatingly catchy you can genuinely imagine a field full of inebriated youngsters deliriously singing along to its delightfully dated, wonky charms. It's not reinventing the wheel, but The Black Keys have always been a defiantly regressive proposition, and it sounds like they're genuinely having fun here. I don't listen to Radio 1 (it's starting to sound to me like a robotic prostitute with Alzheimer's to be honest), but I can imagine once they picked this one up they had already earmarked it as the “Song of the summer” for the 'alternative' set (blokes with beards and girls who call themselves 'super geeky' because they occassionally watch The Big Bang Theory). In short, it was the first song that made me think; “Damn, I should really check these guys out.” I'm glad I did! The opening 'Weight Of Love' almost brings to mind Pink Floyd's 'Breath', only with less space to breath, more of a northern soul slant (that'll be the backing vocals) and a solo which is more Hendrix than Gilmore. At almost 7 minutes it's a triumphant opening gambit, which instantly silences claims that the Black Keys were one-trick-ponies, riding on the cresting waves of the White Stripes fading, blues-rock coattails. From there on in it just keeps getting better and better. 'In Time' is like 'Midnight Vultures' era beck without the irony, the title track takes the alternative country of Wilco and dials in waves of groaning psychedelia, and 'Year In Review' sounds like the best Arctic Monkeys song ever. Yes the Black Keys might have sacrificed their definitive identity here (an identity I personally never much cared for), but who cares when the songs are this good! The second half of the record is just as strong. 'Waiting On Words' is a hazy acoustic ballad with a definite edge, '10 Lovers' is about as sexy as it's possible for music to get without causing spontaneous ejaculation and 'It's Up To you Now' is a fuzzy, monolithic monster. The closing 'Gotta Get Away', meanwhile feels like a necessary regression. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have spent the previous 10 tracks taking their humble beginnings so far, that it's actually quite wonderful to hear them return to the simple, three chord rock and roll with which they first made their name. It reminds listeners that although they are looking forward, they are never above looking back, and that's exactly what they needed to present now that they are on the cusp of a genuine mainstream breakthrough. I say best of luck to them. Kids today (I'm 28 so i'm old enough to say that right?) need to be reminded that you don't need a cabal of shady producers and sycophantic yes men to make a hit record, sometimes all you need is heart, perseverance and some kick-ass licks. Plus, y'known, the artwork will probably give you a migraine. ROCK ON LADS!


  • Have to say I disagree, wasn't a fan of this album. Thought it was really boring-nothing on El Camino!