Hardcore Stripes fans may bemoan the 'uncool' sheen of professionalism that coats this...
Dennis O'Dell 2008-03-25
Who'd have thought it? We already know that Jack White and his pals' 'side project' amounted to far more than a spot of indie dilettantism when Broken Boy Soldiers turned out to be such an ace proposition. But would you have bet money that the follow up - sprung on critic and public simultaneously - would better it? Because it does. Oh yes. Jack's back. And Brendan too..
Forged in the heat of Summer 2005 in Detroit, the mixture of White's blues rock and Brendan Benson's more lush Beatlisms was intriguing from the off. But while the rushed quality of the first album was tempered by the democracy of giving both writers equal space, Consolers...is more considered and balanced fare. Witness a song like Old Enough. It's a jugband romp, full of fiddle 'n' fuzz that resurrects the ghost of clever '70s pop rock and still finds room for White's lo-fi squeal. And whereas Broken Boy Soldiers ultimately belonged to White, Benson's superb You Don't Understand Me may well be the best thing on offer here. The production also benefits from the proper studio setting of Nashville's Blackbird studio.
Some songs cover so many bases they leave you dizzy. These Stones Will Shout goes from folk rock to Yardbirds stomp while barely pausing to draw breath. More often thsn not it can recall the vertiginous rush of The Small Faces' finest moments.
There's still a mighty gulf between White and Benson, but here they seem to have pulled off the near-alchemical trick of combining the two strands into a coherent whole. The Switch And The Spur vacillates between Mariachi fever dream and '60s slink. And lest we forget, this isn't just some vanity project, the Raconteurs, at all times, come across as a very tight BAND. Patrick Keeler's drums' swagger and precision makes quite a contrast to the garage thrash of Meg White, that's for sure.
Consolers... oozes confidence. Hardcore Stripes fans may bemoan the 'uncool' sheen of professionalism that coats this album, but this beats Icky Thump by a country mile. And they still find time for the dirty romp of tracks like Hold Up or the almost Thin Lizzy-ish Attention (both of which which boast the same weird wiggy keyboard). It has 'classic' stamped all over it. If the parent bands represented here split tomorrow, who'd care? It stands on its own, and then some...