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“DD Review: The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger.”

Score: 7.5/10

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Oh Raconteurs, what would we all do if you weren’t overly verbose, obtuse and melodramatic? It just wouldn’t work. It would be like a flavor of Pepsi that doesn’t rot your teeth.

Sure enough, “Bored and Razed” chimes like the work of somebody who’s very BORED, the type that would spinily lash out against a person who settles down “steadily” with a family in a small town, or channel this trite, old unnecessary left liberal energy like a half-formed being that only knows that it’s not hip to be square. The intensity and songwriting distinction we find in The White Stripes is entirely gone, which you’d surely expect, an unabashed case of subtraction by addition in this regard. “Help Me Stranger” has the sort of fuzzy, hemmed up guitar sound which might showcase one of Pavement’s gaudier moments, and ultimately these runs work in tandem with the opener to form a 1-2 punch that is more or less entertaining enough.

The undeniable, clear-cut, taut standout, which cements this album as a success, is track four “Don’t Bother Me.” On this installment, the alt and classic rock influences abound, but Jack White is in his own twisted, maniacal world on vocals, with this crisp, computer-modulated voice sporadically burping the world “Don’t bother me bother me” in rhythm all to one of White’s more indignant, vengeful vocal performances. This would be all trite and played-out, of course, if not for the song’s multifarious arsenal of tempos, strategies and grooves, which include more varied and crunchy guitar tones and galloping accelerando the type of intimidating, forceful grunge that Black Mountain were theoretically attempting to make in their sustenance of musical output this year. Also, “Only Child” is a tense enough ballad sort of like Led Zeppelin’s “Friends” to keep you honest.

Naturally, then, the inane Jack White mope-fest gets going on “Shine the Light on Me,” a schmaltzy wad of pointless complaint rock featuring said vocalists patented annoying half-singing, half-crying we got on regrettable Stripes showings like “Forever for Her (Is over for Me).” No, this song isn’t quite as creepy as that one, apparently… I mean I can’t hear much over this guy’s ridiculously megalomaniacal sob-fest. There’s a lot that’s made crystal clear by this new Raconteurs album, like that Jack White really doesn’t like when women leave him or when unwanted people bother him, but also that his band is playing with an energy we’ve perhaps never heard out of them to this date.

 

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