The Raconteurs have rushed released their second album – and you can read NME.COM‘s review of the album now.
Our first reaction to the follow-up to 2006’s ‘Broken Boy Soldiers’ – which was only completed the first week in March but has been rushed into the shops and download services today (March 25) – was written as we heard the record for the first time. Check out our song-by-song verdict now:
‘The Consolers Of The Lonely’
Review by Jamie Fullerton
‘Consoler Of The Lonely’
A Who-esque riff kicks off the album, with tambourine shakes and shuddering bass adding to a rollocking kick-off, Brendan Benson wailing about being “bored to tears” before the song cracks up in velocity with a searing, electric Eric Clapton-esque riff.
‘Salute Your Solution’
Slated as the first single from the album, this fast-paced stomper kicks off with another strong Jack White guitar riff, before a muffled bass riff kicks in halfway through, adding a psychedelic twinge. White sings: “I did what I did just to spite you”in his trademark fuzzy wail.
‘You Don’t Understand Me’
Mid-paced piano licks offer a shift in dimension to the album, White singing about someone feeling the need to “tease me”, when it “would be easier to please me”. The song sounds like a bulked-out version of The White Stripes, with crashing cymbals in the chorus that recall Meg White’s smasharound playing style, but with more tender piano-led moments. Like on the previous songs, White’s vocals soar up and down quickly, adding a huge sense of melody.
“You look pretty in your fancy dress, but I detect unhappiness”, Benson sings over a shaky country intro with hoedown violin. The song is a celtic-twinged mid-paced song that has thankfully toned down White’s interest in British (Scottish?) country music, which was perhaps overdone on The White Stripes‘ 2007 album ‘Icky Thump’. The band’s trademark slowdown drums ‘n’ riff bridges are intact, making this still sound like a Raconteurs rollocker, despite being characterised by chirpy violin.
‘The Switch And The Spur’
Dramatic pianos kick into this lively number just before Spanish brass wails, then things go quiet as Jack White tells a swashbuckling story about sweat, blood, poison and adventure over minimal creeping drums and bass before the brass and piano kick in again. The pace then switches halfway through as stabbing piano suddenly cuts in, followed by a Spaghetti Western brass riff before a familiar, cliff-edge screeching guitar riff from White tops things off. An atmospheric tale that sets The Raconteurs up as a campfire storytellers.
The band members shout the album title repeatedly before a squalling riff cuts in, then the band kick into the most conventional rock song on the album so far. Brendan Benson gets his first prominent vocal – albeit echoed closely by his co-frontman – as a jumpy guitar riffs tuned to sound like organ culled from a Doors song keep dropping in. The song rattles by at runaway train pace and is probably the song that echoes the band’s first album, ‘Broken Boy Soldiers’, the most.
“How you gonna top yourself when there is nobody else? How you gonna do it by yourself, ‘cos I’m not gonna be here to help you”, White sinisterly asks over country-rock acoustic guitar that builds and builds over a jaunty tune at odds with the song’s sombre content. Then the band’s White Stripes-y cymbal bashes smash in and a plucking banjo joins. It’s a sinister porchfront ditty that reminds us of Led Zeppelin‘s more countryish moments.
‘Many Shades Of Black’
Another brass-propelled number with dramatic, showtime guitars that give way to a swinging almost easy listening verse and Benson warbling a chorus that echoes Queen‘s pomp in places. It’s the softest we’ve heard the band yet, until another searing Jack White riff storms in before the death.
‘Five On The Five’
The fastest-paced number so far, and a regular on the band’s first tour in 2006. This is a punky number featuring a crunching riff and White squealing over fast-finger guitar lines and clattering drums. A healthy dose of “Ooh-ooh!”s add to the fast-rocking build while a Nirvana-esque bass-line gives thing a slightly more sinister twist.
Thundering bass-drum thumps and humming basslines give way to a chiming guitar effect that rides over the crashing cymbals diving. Jack White sings “No need for petty excuses… I don’t know what the use is” before things get odd, with chattering vocal effects and whirling organ sounds whipping up to a busy finish.
‘Pull This Blanket Off’
Another piano-led number, with White singing “I wanna believe in you” over dramatic piano cascades that echos The White Stripes ivory-led numbers. One of the album’s shortest songs, clocking in at just over a minute.
‘Rich Kid Blues’
Things slow down as Benson laments having the “Rich kid blues” before the song builds dramatically, with showy drum stabs and hypnotic guitar twangs, before things suddenly cut out and White is singing over acoustic piano. In a manner recalling The Who‘s more prog side, the song then swells again before another crescendo. A optimistic song that, unlike the rest of the album so far, doesn’t place emphasis on huge riffs and guitar lines… until the end, when a big needle-riff kicks in.
‘These Stones Will Shout’
Another acoustic-led number, with White singing over campfire guitars. “You’re not secure enough to tell me your first impression of all these clowns”, he suggests before demanding “Speak to me and don’t speak softly” as deft percussion slips into the mix. Then suddenly thudding drums and a lightning riff signal the second half of the song, which is almost unrecognisable to the first. Relentless and driving, the twinkling sound effects add a spacey element as the song peaks with a crescendo of hammering drums.
A slower, bluesier closer for the band, as White tells a story about a troubled boy with “blue tattoos” named Billy. The song is full of colourful imagery, featuring the aforementioned character strife and notably bearing in mind White‘s love of the colour of a “red-headed mother”. A spectral female vocal cuts in alongside swinging guitar as White tells his story over to rolling violin, that leaves the closing song recalling Bob Dylan’s ’’Isis’.
While many of the characteristics that define The Raconteurs’ sound (wavering, the contrast between Jack White‘s squealing vocals and Brendon Benson’s softer side along with bluesy, searing guitar riffs, storytelling yarns) are retained, the new album from the band contains a few surprises.
Patrick Keeler‘s drums sound very reminiscent of Meg White’s, with crashing cymbals adding a primal quality to the rockier numbers. Meanwhile, on songs like ‘Old Enough’ a violin used deftly adds a celtic edge to affairs. White seems to have moved his Anglophile obsession into a sound that suits his second band well. A notable progression from the foursome, and plenty of huge riffs to enjoy at the summer festivals.
What do you think? – have your say on The Raconteurs new album either by sending a 200 word album review to email@example.com with Raconteurs as the subject, or by posting your comments below using MyNME.
Plus read our sister site Uncut.co.uk’s review of The Raconteurs online now.