Consolers of the Lonely
Third Man/ Warner Brothers
If the fact that The Raconteurs has a new album out comes as a surprise to you, don’t feel so bad. The band recorded the album, went straight into Warner Brothers Records and said, release it next week!, and just like that it was done. No hype, no buzz, no radio station leaks, no album reviews. The point of this quick to record/quick to release process was to put the music in everyone’s hands at the same time.
The immediacy of Consolers of the Lonely is the second point in The Raconteurs’ favor, the first point being the tag team songwriting of Jack White and Brendan Benson. From the opening up-tempo title track, it’s clear that this Nashville quartet has hit another home run. More than that, they have already evolved as a band. This sophomore release hardly sounds like the same band that made the impossibly perfect debut Broken Boy Soldiers just two short years ago.
Sure the line between where The White Stripes ends and The Raconteurs begins has been blurred, but is that really a bad thing? The band that Jack White has made with Benson and Greenhornes members Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler is a boy’s night out, whereas the band he shares with Meg has got the sexual rawness of the two genders coexisting, but much of the sound of both bands still stems from the same mind and so it’s only natural for the projects to overlap.
When compared side by side, Consolers of the Lonely has a lot in common with Icky Thump, The White Stripes’ June 2007 release. Both have a traditional Irish inspired song (“Old Enough” and “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn”), White’s guitar tones are nearly identical, and the guitar riff from “Blue Orchid” off of Get Behind Me Satan can be heard in a toned down manner on “Attention.” So the question is: has White’s work with The Raconteurs influenced The White Stripes, or is it the other way around?
For some the similarities may be difficult to get past, but for a The White Stripes fan this album is a double treat — it’s got the best elements of both bands.
A cover of Terry Reid’s “Rich Kids Blues” is the sole non White/Benson composition on here, a song whose acoustic guitar part was blatantly ripped off in Madonna’s 2000 hit “Don’t Tell Me.”
The album closer, “Carolina Drama,” is the band’s most Dylan-esque embarkation. It’s a modern day “Hurricane,” as it tells a detailed tale of murder, loss of innocence, and mystery. I don’t know if the story that’s told is pulled from the papers or straight from the dramatic minds of White and Benson, but its literary genius is inescapable.
As an album, as a followup, as a side project, or however you want to view this release, it’s a roaring success.