Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

The Raconteurs “Consolers of the Lonely” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Booking a release within a month of the album being mastered, Jack White gave news that The Raconteurs’ new album Consolers of the Lonely would see a blanket release in a matter of days of his surprising announcement – online/radio/retail…everyone would get their taste at the exact same time. It didn’t take long for one cog in the mechanism to ruin the mystique of the revolutionary scheme however as Apple briefly made tracks available via its iTunes store four days prior to its scheduled release. All in all it was a splendid idea, though its delivery was harnessed by error and as with last year’s White Stripes’ pre-release folly a full-blown Jack White retail/media/internet tongue-lashing is as entirely expected as it is reasonable. He and his band mates tried to do something unique, something that had never been done with an album of such magnitude before – and they were shot down. But one positive comes of this whole ordeal, that being that there is indeed new Raconteurs material!

The album’s lead track, “Consoler of the Lonely,” initially shows a band reconvened on the same level as which it left off at the end of 2006’s Broken Boy Solders tour. That being said Consolers of the Lonely might very well be, for lack of a better comparison, the full album equivalent to how divergent “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” was to last year’s Icky Thump.

The Brendan Benson-helmed “Consoler of the Lonely,” however, rings true of BBS bothy rhythmically and lyrically, Benson offering a smoother contrast to White’s rasp in the song, “Hadn’t seen the sun in weeks, my skin is getting pale, haven’t got a mind left to speak and I’m skinny as a rail.” From there, White’s skipping guitar blends optimistically into “Salute Your Solution,” the song’s blend from power-heavy to stomp-rock and back again derailing continuing any thought that this release would sound anything unlike its predecessor. But then “You Don’t Understand Me” follows, and in doing so harnesses a rarely heard side to the band, one only teased at by BBS’s “Together.” The song’s bass-driven piano gently erupts into a multi-dimensional sing along. The unique deviation serves as a doorway into an exploration of a number of unique sounds and songs that hadn’t been previously equated with the band before; The Raconteurs’ “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” if you will.

Mentioning of “Old Enough,” NY Magazine published on its Vulture blog, “They’ve traded the proto-prog for a full-on (sometimes fiddle-enhanced) country sound.” Ripping into the track is indeed a fiddle, but the combination between that and the song’s ripe, bubbling organ – both floating over the almost silenced wave of distortion creates a magnitude unlikely of such a track. Though the two terms are arbitrarily close to one another”Old Enough” is closer to a revival sound than country, nonetheless introducing an unexpected feeling of freedom to Consolers of the Lonely.

What follows includes the throbbing trumpet and piano of the Western feeling, chopsticks interluding “The Switch and the Spur,” the heavily grind-slide guitar and banjo-based “Top Yourself,” topping off with the Stairway-introspection of “Rich Kid Blues.” Though not to say that The Raconteurs aren’t a rock band, surely they are, but this last song sounds something akin a reach towards mammoth Dave Grohl-sized ’70s rockstardom. The blur between rock and experimentation is dominated by this song, demonstrating that despite the album’s diversions and easily misconstrued direction it is an album with one primary direction.

Pushing the statement that Consolers of the Lonely is a strictly aimed rock and roll album are tracks such as the blazing “Hold On,” the simple “Attention” and “Five on the Five,” a song that was heavily favored during the band’s 2006 tour.

The album ends with White’s best storytelling effort on the album, “Carolina Drama.” In it a young man is faced with a bloody situation and and a questionable truth. Starting the story with its ultimate conclusion, “I’m not sure if there’s a point to the story but I’m gonna tell it again, so many other people try to tell the tale not one of them knows the end,” White ends without explaining its finale. Much like the song, White represented his band prior to the release of Consolers explaining little of what the album would be about, or what it would sound like, but rather that it had an end and would be up to the listener to decide what happens from there. Consolers of the Lonely isn’t nearly as straightforward or surface-level as Broken Boy Soldiers, it takes many diversions and is overwhelming with its defiance towards a uniform sound. And despite some finding out the realization of the album sooner than expected, the release is ultimately worth celebrating because of that realization: Consolers of the Lonely is a fantastic album that sounds anything but what one may expect it to sound like.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]