Jack White hates me. I know this. I know this because he has previously ranted at bloggers and internet reviewers in interviews. It’s OK, I can take it, and to be fair, he probably does have a point. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can do what I do (please if your name is Tom, Dick or Harry then drop us an email with some reviews!), I don’t pretend to be the greatest music writer of all time – this is just about me sharing some of my passion with the world and exercising my brain outside of a work environment. So please, Jack, we’re a sensitive bunch and we do really like the work you do (well, most of us do).
So with this in mind, Jack White got back at people like me and the music press more generally, by choosing to rush-release his latest work with the Raconteurs, without any forewarning. If reports are to be believed, he even wanted to keep it from retailers – he just wanted the album to appear on the shelves! But this doesn’t mean that the album is poor – it is an improvement on the Raconteurs debut, and is equal to much of the White Stripes output. This is old fashioned, straight forward, rock and roll – nothing more and nothing less. It’s just of a very high standard.
Whereas the first album saw White and Benson share song-writing and lead-singing in equal measure across the record, it appears that the song-writing process of Consolers of the Lonely was a much more fluid, team-like one. Songs come and go and at times it’s hard to tell who is who, such is the frenzy with which the singers approach their roles, while the styles are less White/Benson and more White-Benson. Sonically, the drums are louder than before and allude to Meg White’s more ‘primitive’ style much more, while the guitars trade-off Led Zepesque riffs aplenty, with texture brought in by organ, piano and horns which wouldn’t sound out of place on Icky Thump.
‘Salute Your Solution’ is the first single from the album (check out the arty video on rockbeatstone here) and features Benson and White stepping up for vocal duties in equal measure, although one wouldn’t think so upon a first listen. It’s a rollocking torrential blues rock song and a great choice for first single. ‘Five on the Five’ doesn’t let up for one moment and is pure fun. A punk-pop song of the highest order with driving drums, cowbell and clashing guitar solos, it’s a great song which sounds like it was a lot of fun to play and should be an absolute blast live. ‘You Don’t Understand Me’ has lashings of piano and is perhaps the most emotional that the band gets on this album, while ‘Many Shades of Black’ examines a dying relationship. Final song, ‘Carolina Dream’ is a murder-ballad a la Raconteurs with a story which has been heard a hundred times before, but which has a new sense of disquiet and urgency. It’s a great song that Nick Cave would probably be proud of.
While many of the new fans that the Raconteurs made last time around may well miss the simplicity and beauty of songs like ‘Intimate Secretary’ and ‘Hands’, the rest of us, who can deal with a torrential downpour of loud blues-rock, will find much to appreciate in this album. Others may well be asking what the point of the Raconteurs is, if they are going to play songs which sound like the White Stripes output. I, for one, care little about these concerns. This is a great collection of loud classic-rock music, like they just don’t do anymore (at least in the mainstream) and we should be grateful for this at a time when Jay-Z is headlining Glastonbury and Kate Nash is a regular NME coverstar.