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Waving goodbye to The Black Keys

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 10:45 15/05/2014

I'd always defended The Black Keys. I quite liked the first three albums - despite the lack of (actual) songs. They were always best when covering a song or parading around something that might as well have been a cover. The first glimpse I had of them as possibly charlatans was that hip-hop/rock crossover - the Blackroc project. I just couldn't get on board with that. It seemed I was the only one. I probably wanted to like it - on some level. But it didn't stick. I couldn't quite believe it.

Certainly I cut the band the benefit of the doubt as they drifted away from just being a garage rock duo - good on them for diversifying right? But if their gig a couple of years ago felt like a break-up date (which, if you don't want to click on that link, is exactly how I described it) then the brand new album, Turn Blue, is the final kiss-off. I'm done. I'm out.The Black Keys

You see, I just can't believe this band anymore. And that means I can't believe in them - more for me for trying, previously. Perhaps. But I just can't roll with them anymore. I've liked facets of their sound since I first heard them - and by that I mean not just the band's early albums but Dan Auerbach's work as a producer and player/sideman and solo artist. I've interviewed both Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney ahead of separate New Zealand shows and both band members made for excruciating interviewees. Hey, fair cop, that might well have been my fault. It certainly didn't put me off seeing them - and digging it - the first time.

But that show - a couple of years ago - should have been the final nail. And then I trucked along and plunged on into Turn Blue - I wanted to like it. But this is pantomime-blues, this is some kind of f**king bulls**t now. This is a couple of guys so massively - brutally - taking the piss that I have to assume I've been slow here - well, it would figure - in getting the joke.

The latest Black Keys album was a bit like that second season of Flight of the Conchords, the entire career of Rhys Darby, the last couple of John Grisham novels (or, well, all of them) and that cynical rubbish that was packaged up as Them Crooked Vultures. Remember the talk around that? Man, I copped it. Attended that show and called it how I saw it, got hate mail for weeks - the main thrust being that I was so way off because this was a totally serious band and a new album was about to be dropped. Didn't I know this? Well, it's been more than four years now, and counting. But - according to those in the know - that new album was imminent. I wish the latest Black Keys album hadn't been.

I'd like to remember them as the guys that flirted - just a bit - with blues; that subverted the garage-rock duo, that made something from what was so obviously a fan because they had a deep pocket to their sound and it relied on both members, it wasn't about one showman and one person just showing up.

But f**k all of that. This is just another fad-band. And their latest shows them wanting.

It suggests - in fact - that they've been skiving. Turn Blue

But of course so many people will lap it up.

Pah. You'd wonder why. If it was worth it.

Here's my review of the new Black Keys album, Turn Blue

Postcript I: Speaking of breaking up - and break-up albums (and man I hope this is it for The Black Keys - it's certainly it for me and them) here's my review of the new Coldplay album.

Postscript II: Yesterday saw the announcement of a new festival. Boy I hope it sticks. Something worries me - already. Something tells me this will be cancelled, or the Auckland version of it will be anyway. I hope I'm wrong. I'd really be into seeing this, for D'Angelo alone.

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