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Consolers Of The Lonely

Jack White’s bit on the side return with an accomplished and musically diverse second album.

Rating: 7 / 10

Paul Nolan, 28 Mar 2008

The Raconteurs announced their arrival on the scene in 2006 with a wonderful debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, and anybody who caught their superb Olympia show that year will know that, far from being a Jack White vanity project, the group were (and remain) intent on making a serious impact in their own right.

The band’s four-piece line-up certainly offers Jack greater scope for sonic experimentation than the bare bones garage rock format of The White Stripes, and it’s an opportunity he takes full advantage of on Consolers Of The Lonely (which, in a sign of the times, is the second album by a major rock act this year – after Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV – to catch everyone off-guard with its unadvertised release). The through-line of the album is still driving blues rock but, as was the case on The Raconteurs’ first record, White is clearly determined to explore fresh musical terrain.

‘You Don’t Understand Me’ is the first track where the band really stretch their creative wings. An inspired piece of psychedelic piano-pop decorated with ringing guitars and Queen-like harmonies, it’s my personal favourite song on the record.

A couple of other tracks notable for their imaginative instrumentation are the Mariachi influenced ‘The Switch And The Spur’ and ‘Many Shades of Black’, both of which suggest that Jack and co. have heeded the counsel offered by The Coasters on the Death Proof soundtrack, and sought their kicks in a honky tonk down Mexico way.

Although there are plenty of other highlights (most notably the Led Zep-style bluesy stomp of ‘Top Yourself’ and the beautiful piano-led number ‘Pull This Blanket Off’), Consolers Of The Lonely certainly isn’t without its problems. The folk-rock tune ‘Old Enough’, for example, sounds like Blues Explosion playing the theme tune from Glenroe, whilst the likes of ‘Five On The Five’ and ‘Attention’ are mediocre garage-rock by-numbers. It also has to be acknowledged that the album lacks a stone-cold classic in the manner of ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’ or ‘Seven Nation Army’.

Nonetheless, there are sufficient quality moments to make Consolers Of The Lonely a thoroughly worthwhile listen.

KEY TRACK: ‘You Don’t Understand Me’

Rating: 7 / 10
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