Consolers of the Lonely Review

The Raconteurs

Consolers Of The Lonely


For some reason, the first time I heard Consolers of the Lonely, I was disappointed. It seemed as though the brilliant hooks and cutting intelligence of Broken Boy Soldiers (or at least it’s first half) had been replaced by louder guitars and “rock-on!”-rudimentary. Still, I couldn’t believe that Jack White was capable of letting me down, so I kept coming back to it. I’m glad I kept the faith.

Consolers of the Lonely sees The Raconteurs going from an intriguing experiment to a fully-fledged band that rocks…hard. Unfortunately, it further confirms what everyone thought right from the beginning: this is Jack’s band. White’s magnetism and unwavering energy propels everything forward like a mad shot of adrenaline into the Raconteurs’ collective arm. That being said, he does have a crack band backing him. Patrick Keeler and “Little” Jack Lawrence make a fantastic rhythm section and Benson deserves his due for writing and singing many of the albums best tunes as well as providing a bit of sensitivity (but not too much) to contrast with White’s bravado. “Shades of Black” in particular is a shiner for him, where he bellows beautifully over soaring horns. He tries his best to keep up with White’s explosive persona but who can blame him for just not being up to the task?

In fact, the album seems to have been hijacked by White, as it leans way more towards his blues and country tendencies. This time round there’s less of Benson’s synthizers and colorful arrangements and more fiddle (the back-porch-y “Old Enough), mariachi horns (“Shades of Black”, the dramatic western “The Switch and The Spur”) and some nice slide guitar (the stylish “Top Yourself” and the lazy-day “Pull this Blanket Off”). What probably happened was everyone would throw in their ideas and they just kept saying, “damn Jack, that is a kick ass idea.” Or he just threatened to kick their asses if they dared argue (watch your back, little Jack). Or worse, he’d challenge them to a guitar duel…to the death! Which would basically mean suicide because White’s guitar playing on the album is a wonder. On no White Stripes album does he sound so frighteningly corrosive. It sounds like a wild-bolt of electricity just looking for something to fry. At this point I’d say it’s justifiable to call him this generation’s premier guitar hero. While Benson’s shtick peeks through at times, White’s dominance ultimately serves to bring both the band and the album a much greater focus than heard on Soldiers.

Ultimately, as kick-ass as a band can be, they’re nothing without kick-ass tunes. It took me a while to realize it but there’s plenty of ‘em on Consolers. While there’s no trace of the power pop of “Together”, “Hands” and “Intimate Secretary” from the first album, between the rave ups (“Consolers of the Lonely“), ballads (“You Don’t Understand Me“), 70’s covers (“Rich Kid Blues”) and southern gothic tales (“Carolina Drama”) you’d be hard pressed to not find something to love about this album. On Consolers of the Lonely, The Raconteurs have taken a great undeniable step forward and Jack White continues to prove that there’s nothing he can’t do.

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