Turn Blue is the eighth studio album by American rock duo the Black Keys. It was released through Nonesuch Records on May 12, 2014, and co-produced by Danger Mouse and the duo. The record was their fourth collaboration with Danger Mouse, following their previous studio album, El Camino (2011), which was their biggest commercial and critical success to that point. For Turn Blue, Danger Mouse reprised his role from El Camino as an equal songwriting partner alongside guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney.
The Black Keys recorded the majority of Turn Blue at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California, from July to August 2013, with additional recording taking place at Key Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, in early 2014. The sessions coincided with Auerbach’s divorce from his wife, which inspired much of the album’s lyrics. The resulting material was more melancholy and slower paced than the uptempo, hook-laden songs from El Camino. The album exhibits influences from psychedelic rock and soul, while also including the band’s usual blues and garage rock sound. In addition to representing the record’s moody tone, the title was selected as a homage to the “turn blue” catchphrase used by 1960s horror hostGhoulardi.
The band announced the album in March 2014 via a tweet by retired boxer Mike Tyson and a series of cryptic YouTube videos featuring a hypnotist. The song “Fever” was released as the lead single in March, and it charted in several countries. Four additional singles were released, including “Gotta Get Away“, which was a rock radio success in North America. Turn Blue received favorable reviews from critics, many of whom commented on Danger Mouse’s growing influence on the band. The album debuted at number one in the United States, Australia, and Canada, becoming the group’s first record to top the charts in those countries. In May 2014, they embarked on a world tour in support of the album. At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Turn Blue was nominated for Best Rock Album, while “Fever” received nominations for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song.
In December 2011, the Black Keys released their seventh studio album, El Camino. It was co-produced and co-written by the band’s frequent collaborator Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, who had previously produced the group’s 2008 album Attack & Release and their 2010 single “Tighten Up“. El Camino comprised mostly uptempo, hook-laden tracks and featured a sound that drew from several popular genres of the 1950s–1970s, such as rock and roll, glam rock, rockabilly, surf rock and soul. The record was critically acclaimed and commercially successful, and bolstered by the popular singles “Lonely Boy“, “Gold on the Ceiling“, and “Little Black Submarines“, it helped the group attain a new level of popularity. In the US, it debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and sold 206,000 copies in its first week, the highest single-week sales and (to that point) charting position the group had achieved in the country. The album also reached the top five of the album charts in Australia, Canada, Belgium (Flanders), and New Zealand. Many publications, such as Rolling Stone and Time ranked El Camino among the best albums of the year. The album was certified double-platinum in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand; platinum in the US, UK, and Ireland; and gold in Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. The group’s subsequent 129-date concert tour, the El Camino Tour, was their first playing arenas as a headlining act. It grossed $12.7 million in ticket sales in 2012.
Speaking about the two-and-a-half-year gap between the release of El Camino and Turn Blue, guitarist Dan Auerbach explained that the group took longer for their eighth album because they were “this-is-your-brain-on-drugs fried”. The duo also spent time between records producing for artists: Auerbach worked on albums for Lana Del Rey (Ultraviolence), Dr. John (Locked Down), and Ray LaMontagne (Supernova), among others; Carney produced for Tennis.