The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely

The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely

The cover of Consolers of the Lonely, the much-anticipated followup LP from the Raconteurs, is some black-and-white job with the group posed as some turn of the 20th century group of minstrels, or maybe as some saloon stand-ins. This is obvious foreshadowing of the banjos, fiddles, horns, and grind-organs you will find here. Personally, I think there’s an embarrassing amount of horns on this record, but I think it’s balanced out by the weirder prog-rock elements.

The first two cuts are full-on rockers which generously utilize Jack White’s White Stripes-style yipping vocal delivery. I sense the Raconteurs are flirting with ideas much more complicated than the settings on their effects pedals. “Old Enough” is a powdered mixture of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and some sort of mountain/bluegrass/hillbilly parade, all pulsing organ stabs with fiddles and plucking banjos. The songs with such flirtations never seem to fully commit themselves one way or the other, however. Rather, there seems to be a slightly formulaic way of being “not-too-formulaic.” Just when I get to feeling cozy, someone slams on the brakes.

“The Switch and the Spur” is molded into some sort of Mexicana/soundtrack from Hollywood’s golden age (think old Zorro films). Blaring trumpets and dashes of flamenco-styled guitar. This track is 4:53 of pure awfulness. But hey, you might like that brand of madness. Songs like “Attention,” “Hold On,” and “Rich Kid Blues,” on the other hand, have all the fun, urgency, and/or solid pop backbone to really sell me. In fact, I wish more songs were like these. Likewise, “Many Shades of Black,” in its simplicity and melody, has a timelessness that I’m intrigued by. Or maybe it’s because of the strange sounds lingering around the solo.

With a 14-track album, things can get a bit testy. Consolers is certainly not my favorite release this year, but it does have some really outstanding cuts and is pretty easy to get along with. Much like their debut effort, the album’s an interesting mix of sounds and textures that proves that this is not some Jack White-only show, nor does it attempt to duplicate itself. So, if you don’t like the direction the music’s heading, don’t worry — things will turn around in a second or two. Well played, boys.

(Warner Bros. Records -- 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA. 91505; http://www.warnerbrosrecords.com/; The Raconteurs -- http://www.theraconteurs.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Thursday, April 10th, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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