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Monday, June 25, 2018

Music this week: Blacks and Blues

The Black Keys have openly spoken about being influenced by Bob Dylan and The Beatles.

Written by Swetha Ramakrishnan | Published: August 16, 2014 12:11:40 am
Turn Blue isn’t a fantastically gripping album, but it holds your attention like anything dark and mysterious would. Turn Blue isn’t a fantastically gripping album, but it holds your attention like anything dark and mysterious would.

Album: Turn Blue
Artist: The Black Keys
Record: Nonesuch Records
Price: Rs. 499
Rating: ***1/2

Turmoil and pained love are common themes in any The Black Keys album. Moody blues and opinionated guitar riffs govern some of their most famous songs. Gold on the ceiling, Everlasting light and Lonely boy, to name a few. It isn’t surprising then that their eighth studio album, Turn Blue, isn’t too far from their traditional sound. But then, most of their contemporaries from the 2000s are still surviving on their millennium hits (The White Stripes and Breaking Benjamin, among others).

Turn Blue starts with a bang. Evidently, the talented duo (Dan Auberbach and Patrick Karney) believe in starting the album with a cracker, slowly easing into permanency. This is apparent in their last album as well, El Camino, which began with the upbeat and popular Lonely boy and ended with the underdog, Mind eraser. The first track on the list, Weight of love, is passionate, preachy and heavy. “Don’t give yourself away/To the weight of love,” sings Auberbach, taking you into their hazy world of ambient sounds. The second track Turn blue is a game changer, however. Released as a single a couple of months before the official album launch, the smooth, hummable track is contemporary and stays with you for weeks after you’ve first heard it.

The Black Keys have openly spoken about being influenced by Bob Dylan and The Beatles, and many of the middle tracks of the album manifest that sense of identity crises and a demystification of love, which the veteran artists beautifully expressed. For example, Bullet in the brain incorporates lyrics such as “I let you use my gifts/To back those lyin’ lips”. It’s upto you now makes for a crisp existential cry. In time and Fever are a tad bit more aggressive and dramatic, with heavy bass sounds and vocals that could easily be a part of a Spaghetti Western.

The last two tracks of the album are far more mellow. By this time, you’ve gotten used to their unpredictable outbursts, and the bluesy aftertaste comes as a welcome change. In our prime has dreamy vocals and the sense of longing is well highlighted, while Gotta get away is the biggest surprise, the album’s clincher. The melody is summer-y and positive, leaving you on the edge. It’s a drastic break from the largely dystopic nature of the songs in the album.

Turn Blue isn’t a fantastically gripping album, but it holds your attention like anything dark and mysterious would. You identify with the lyrics and the melodies grow on you. When Auberbach sings, “Blacktop, I can’t stop/For no one, it’s no fun… But still I’m tryin”, you want to believe him. And you do.

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