The Dead Weather – ‘Dodge And Burn’

Jack White returns with a rib-shaking record that's just begging to be played live

Jack White has cut something of a disconsolate figure of late, a man at odds with this crazy, mixed-up world of clickbait journalism, streaming royalties, smartphones at gigs and disregard for the sanctity of a good guac recipe. The announcement in May this year that he was to take an extended break from the stage following extensive touring in support of 2014 solo record ‘Lazaretto’ was something that had probably been coming for a while, but it still raised questions, the most pressing of which concerned The Dead Weather, a project famed for their blistering live performances.

Five years on from ‘Sea Of Cowards’, the quartet’s third album begins promisingly with ‘I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)’, on which the 40-year-old White gets to impersonate Led Zep drummer John Bonham, The Kills’ Alison Mosshart is given license to wail like ex-Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick, and everybody goes home happy. ‘Three Dollar Hat’ is better still, a slice of warped madcappery in the vein of Beck’s 1996 album ‘Odelay’ which finds White spitting about “shooting everybody down with a .33” over languid hip-hop grooves and a dissonant keyboards, lending the whole thing a wonderfully unsettled, discombobulated vibe. Mosshart, sometimes a detached and dispassionate impression of someone else’s idea of cool, deserves credit for enlivening tracks like ‘Cop And Go’ and ‘Rough Detective’, the latter of which sees her taking part in a twisted call-and-response interrogation by White’s titular lawman.

Yet such playfulness is sadly lacking elsewhere ‘Dodge And Burn’, a record largely comprised of sulphurous gothic rockers such as ‘Lose The Right’ and ‘Be Still’, both of which sound like a band working from muscle memory. Listening to the album, you can’t help but wonder whether any of these songs were waved onto the tracklisting with the qualifier of, ‘Yeah, but just think how it’ll sound when we play it live!’ It’s a pity they won’t get to find out. For now at least.