The Black Keys released “Gotta Get Away” about a month after their latest album Turn Blue, even though the exact same track appeared on the album. It’s not a remix, or an extended cut, or an acoustic version. It doesn’t feature Wiz Khalifa. It’s identical to the one we’ve already heard, which makes it less of a release and more of a relapse.
Repackaging a previously-released single is not the most heinous of crimes, but it’s a marketing ploy I’m not particularly fond of – especially so soon after the album’s release. However, there is something else about “Gotta Get Away” – it sounds like a lot of other stuff.
Put less simply, it has a lot to do with their use of suspended chords and road-trippin’, ramblin’ man lyrics (I went from San Berdoo to Kalamazoo / Just to get away from you). When I first heard it, I thought it was a dead ringer for “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller Band. Then someone said it sounded like Creedence Clearwater Revival and I thought, “Hot damn, that’s spot on.” But when I saw a YouTube comment that compared it to “Dead Flowers” by the Rolling Stones, I think my jaw actually dropped. It sounds so dead flowery you can almost play them at the same time.
I love that they are alluding to these other groups, but “Gotta Get Away” is very derivative. I think there is a difference between paying tribute to someone and sounding exactly like them. But aside from the originality thing, what it comes down to is that a digression like this doesn’t get me all fired up about the Black Keys. It just makes me want to go listen to Steve Miller Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Rolling Stones. Because honestly, I liked this style better when they did it.
Yes the Black Keys are branching out, yes they are having fun, yes you can call it 70s rock revival. But I think it is a bad sign when most of the comments online are heated arguments about which other band they sound more like. As the debate goes on, the only thought in my mind is that I just want the Black Keys to sound like the Black Keys.
Despite its lackluster state as a standalone single, I have to say that “Gotta Get Away” was an amazing, unexpected way to finish off Turn Blue. With all of the moody-broody depth they poured into that album, they quite literally get away from it with this little surprise at the end. But if the best things going for the song are that they stuck it in an unusual place and it sounds like other bands, that is just not enough for me. I have publicly Tuggle-danced to “Lonely Boy” way too many times to let the Black Keys get away with anything less than fantastic.