You guys voted and here is the winning album: The Raconteurs. Sophomore albums can be difficult for bands because they’re trying to do something different and not replicate exactly what was found on their debut. But it seems that these guys remedied the situation by taking everything they did on their first album and tripling it. Everything here is louder, bolder, and at times longer than before. Every song here is amazing and such an experience, but there are a few you have to be in the right mood to get through.
It feels like this album shows two different sides of the band: the gritty, rock n roll band that revels in energy and guitar solos and the soft, melancholy Blues/Country band that’s looking to break your heart. We’re introduced to the former band during the beginning of the record. The title track “Consoler of the Lonely” has really dirty guitars that give off this classic rock n roll vibe with some old school rockabilly tossed in. It’s an energetic way to start off the album and it gets you pumped for what’s coming next. This track is actually a good example of what to expect from the band: hard, dirty rock music with a Country/Blues edge.
This straight up rock n roll sound continues on “Salute Your Solution.” The dirty rock sound found here is actually reminiscent of Wolfmother‘s sound minus all the psychedelia. One of the best moments of the song is during the bridge when Jack White and Brendon Benson sing “And I got what I got all despite you/And I get what I get just to spite you.” This line is dripping with cynicism and attitude that you don’t expect from these guys. But after this song the other band comes out; the one that wants to break your heart. “You Don’t Understand Me” is full of melancholy, sadness, and somber piano playing. You can hear the obvious blues influence here, but you also get a Jazz vibe as well. This is the type of song you can picture being played in a seedy, smoke filled bar. The rest of the album goes back and forth between their rocking and somber sides.
One song that has an unexpected sound for the band is “Rich Kid Blues.” Up until this point the songs have been going back and forth between Country, rock, folk, and blues. And while elements of these genres can be found on this track, it’s the way they’re presented that’s so different. The musical build up and the dramatic sound of the vocals makes this sound like a Queen song. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s just unexpected considering Jack White is all about stripped down, good ol’ fashioned rock music without anything too epic or fancy. What’s even more interesting is that the song preceding this one, “Pull This Blanket Off,” is a bare, stripped down song with just vocals, a piano, and some occasional guitar.
When you toss Jack White into any band, you expect the music to be good and it’s no different here. But what makes these songs so different and so great is that a lot of them tell heartbreaking stories. “Top Yourself” is a bluesy song that talks about a girl who would rather depend on others rather than help out herself, while “The Switch and The Spur” sounds like the plot to a spaghetti Western with the blaring horns and twanging guitars that gives the track some Latin flavor. It actually reminds me of a toned down version of “Knights of Cydonia.” The most dramatic and chaotic song here is the closing track “Carolina Drama.” With the moaning guitars and a return to the Country sound, this song pulls you in. Half the time you forget the music and pay attention to the story of fighting, lust, affairs, and greed unfold before you. It’s the best song on the album because the details are so vivid you can picture everything that’s going on.
While the album is good and we wouldn’t expect anything less from a band that contains Jack White, there are times where it runs too long. Some of the slower songs like “Old Enough” and “Many Shades of Black” can start to ware on you after a while. The entire album in general is longer than their first one clocking in at fifty-five minutes; their debut clocked in at roughly thirty minutes. Even though none of the songs are bad, they get a little tiring after awhile, especially when you think the album should’ve ended two tracks ago. This is one of those records where you have to be in a particular mood to get through the whole thing in one sitting. It’s not a huge deal, but cutting out one or two tracks wouldn’t have hurt.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. Despite the length of the record getting tiring if you’re not in the right mood, it’s still a great album full of catchy, energetic, and story filled songs. The band perfects their Blues and Country inspired song without totally leaving out their hard rocking side. Out of all the side projects out there, this is definitely one of the better ones. It would seem that Jack White is always eager for new music as we haven’t heard anything about The Raconteurs since this album’s release. Hopefully, this year that’ll change.
Again, thanks to everyone who voted! If you enjoyed the poll and want to see more like that in the future, let me know! And don’t worry, the other albums that didn’t get picked will get reviewed in due time.