Album Reviews

The Raconteurs – Consolers Of The Lonely

(XL) UK release date: 24 March 2008

The Raconteurs - Consolers Of The Lonely Infidelity is apparently running rampant in the city of Detroit. As a perjury indictment against the mayor, who is embroiled in a sex scandal, was brought to light, the fruits of another Motor City liaison had quietly begun to grace record store shelves.

The latter incident is the result of the reunion of The White Stripes lead Jack White, pop/rock artist Brendan Benson and Greenhornes rhythm duo Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence, whose eclectic sound is once again showcased on Consolers of the Lonely, their excellent sophomore effort. White’s second fling with The Raconteurs is quite the party, and perhaps one that may leave Meg a bit jealous.

As is the case with any reasonably tawdry affair, little is held sacred. Typically, in order to accommodate the media, months of lead time exist between the announcement of a pending album and that work’s actual delivery to the masses. However, following in the footsteps of record industry rebels Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, the group decided to forego tradition (potentially at the expence of initial record sales) in order to level the playing field in terms of availability and instead announced the release only one week in advance.

Time will tell whether or not the commercial success of the record will be hindered by this decision. Nevertheless, it is yet another example of modern music artists’ burgeoning desire to thumb their noses at the establishment.

The group’s transgressions by no means end with the business details. Little reverence is preserved for time signatures, which, throughout the album, are frequently adjusted mid-track. The same can be said for musical styles and predecessor catalogues, as the band’s blend of vintage and modern indie rock is melded with tidbits from classic artists to form wildly varied songs that span multiple decades and genres. There are many likenesses to Led Zeppelin, one example of which is These Stones Will Shoot’s similarity to Your Time is Gonna Come.

There’s a mariachi influence in the Conquest-like The Switch And The Spur, and fiddles in the country ho-down Old Enough. The work of The Beatles is not taboo either, as the hand of Paul McCartney is seemingly summoned to play the While My Guitar Gently Weeps opening note to introduce the track outro on You Don’t Understand. The mercurial nature of the record, while somewhat dizzying at times, certainly keeps the song repertoire fresh throughout the 14 tracks.

The stage for this latest Raconteur rendezvous is set in the opening track, in which an apparently “bored to tears” individual solicits the compassion of an initially unwilling sympathiser. Although White sings the latter part, he may actually suit the former. One can not help but wonder if the doting stares and usual stomping beats returned by Meg after any idea presented by Jack are not always the constructive criticism for which he is looking. That being said, she is still very important to him.

With that in mind, White notes that if the whiner is “looking for an accomplice… you’re gonna find yourself alone,” but is accommodating when the commitment is lessened. The music follows suit, as the quicker-paced indie rock of the complainer is offset by slower, Icky Thump-like guitar riffs. These riffs begin and end the song, which is perhaps a reminder that Consolers is just a fling.

The rest of the album continues as such. While they get down to business with the single Salute Your Solution, complete with bass runs and drum fills never broached on any White Stripes record, White can not help but resurrect, for instance, the Status Quo-like, crunchy solos he used frequently on Icky Thump. Indeed, while his torrid music affair with his other Detroit partners certainly provides for an exciting diversion, Meg is never all that far from his heart.

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