One Track Mind: The Black Keys, “Turn Blue” from Turn Blue (2014)

The Black Keys keep their foot off the gas pedal on the title track from the upcoming Turn Blue, offering a quietly effective journey into falsetto-sung heartache — like a stripped-down, next-gen update of the Temptations’ Psychedelic Shack.

The throwback feel of the album’s debut track “Fever,” which included a Farfisa organ, continues here as surging strings convey fate’s sudden turn — while a pulsing bass line coils the tension to palpable levels. A shattered-sounding Dan Auerbach is left, finally, to quietly contemplate the hell no one wants to admit is just below.

As such, the Danger Mouse-helmed Turn Blue (due May 13, 2014) looks to be the cool-out polar opposite of 2011’s El Camino. That balls-out record, if anything, recalled the roaringly primitive garage rock of their pre-Danger Mouse days, something the Black Keys began turning away from once he arrived to produce 2008’s Attack and Release.

If, in fact, they are tossing aside the turn-it-to-11 riffs and foundation-cracking hooks that made El Camino such a perfect selection when the car windows were rolled down, Turn Blue might just require a change in scenery. With “Fever” and “Turn Blue,” at least, best head back home and draw the blinds. We might even suggest pulling down your favorite brown bottle for company.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.