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Album review: The Raconteurs, “Consolers of the Lonely” (Warner Bros.) [1.5 STARS]

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The Raconteurs made their 2006 debut with “Broken Boy Soldiers,” a delightful burst of power-pop enthusiasm that found Jack White showcasing his range as a songsmith by partnering with fellow singer and songwriter Brendan Benson to find a much more expansive and challenging setting for his talents than the now well-defined blues-rock minimalism of the White Stripes. The problem with the follow-up is that White was so eager to go in the opposite direction that the Raconteur’s second album topples under the weight of its own maximalist bombast and hollow filigree.

Yes, with “Consolers of the Lonely” -- rush-released in all formats on Tuesday to prevent leaks (though leak it did) -- the Raconteurs have made the sort of art-rock record that gave art-rock a bad name, heavy with pretentiously tinkling grand pianos, overwrought guitar solos, those mariachi horns that White loves so much (“The Switch and the Spur”), sawing fiddles that give way to rampaging Moogs (“Old Enough”) and (egads!) an absolutely wretched orchestral homage to Queen at its very worst (“Many Shades of Black”).

Echoing the arguments self-indulgent art-rockers such as Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer made for flawed epics like “Tales from Topographic Oceans” and “Works, Volume 1” back in the day, the Raconteurs issued a press release stating that they “prefer that fans buy the album as a whole instead of breaking up the tracks” (’cause genius just can’t be carved into three-minute blasts for your iPod, doncha know). The irony of here is that “Consolers of the Lonely” is one of the least consistent album-length rides from a major band in recent memory, and the few good moments -- including the more typically effervescent single “Salute Your Solution” or the bouncy “Attention” -- are best appreciated via exactly that sort of cherry-picking.

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12 Comments

Another snide, snotty review from DeRogatis. Obviously Jimbo is offended that White and his crew chose to buck the trend and release this album with his audience in mind and not bow to cynical critics with prerelease copies. This is a powerful album that grows on you with repeated listenings.

This album f-ing rocks like a shotgun blast to the face and a good jig in the spilt guts. DeRogatis is angry he couldn't make music this good.

Did he listen to the same album I did?

I'd hardly consider the Raconteurs a "major" band.

Jim,
I hate to say it but...YOU ARE WRONG! I think you were listening to something totally different because I think this album makes a strong case for eliminating The White Stripes! Jack White is much stronger working in collaboration and with a group of musical equals. I do like The White Stripes and "Elephant" is terrific but mostly, aside from some songs here and there, the limitations of that band get on my nerves. The Raconteurs show me how far he can go and he doesn't have to run the whole show either. I felt that this album was truly an ALBUM as opposed to the "let's try and make some songs together" vibe of their debut. It was reminicient of the 70's without being an obvious throwback and I am hopeful they stay together and make a third. But, comparing this new album to "Tarkus"?! Good gravy, man! I love that era and always will but that was HARSH! Were you just angry because you didn't get an advance copy?
Scott

Mr. DeRogatis,
I do not follow all of your writing, and I have possibly naive confidence in you that your reviews do not all read like this one. Lester Bangs once said,"In order to be a good music critic, you must be honest and unmerciful, not a fan." You are clearly not a fan, but I will not unfairly critisize you for that, but rather the major musicality aspects of the album that you blindly ignored. It is unfair to take Jack White's past and incorporate it into your critique of his less accomplished "side-project: dont call it a side-project" project. These two bands are uncomparable. You blatantly ignored the omage of heavier rock that is dead in much of America's new mainstream music that The Raconteurs were able to make. A band that is still loyal to it's roots is rare.The heavy Jack White riffs and 'poppy' lyrics of Brendan Benson are just half of this talented band. Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler both formly of The Greenhornes bring unrecognized (by you) musicality to a somewhat incohesive album (I agree).Yes, I am growing up when there is access to itunes butchering up carefully put together song orders and sound combinations! I wish you could appreciate the music for what it accomplishes rather than writing a surface deep critique that does not have any validity to its poorly stated arguments.

Thank you for your time.

So Chip, this album that you like so much that was released with you (the audience) in mind, you paid for that right? Nice to know you appreciate the hard work and thoughtfulness Jack and Co. put into the album.

Dear Jim,

As someone who is working to get the word back into common use, I appreciate your use of "Egads" in your recent Raconteurs review.

I also appreciate how this was not just a one-time occurrence. I remember you had used "egads," but couldn't remember when, so I did a "Jim DeRogatis" + egads google search and came up with 35 references that included egads or egad.

Keep up the good work!

Andy Robeznieks

I agree very much with this review. I bought it upon immediate sight due to my love of the first album. I confess I have not managed to play it all they way through. I once read a review of the first album explaining how the sound of the Raconteurs is the cross combination of Jack's harder style with Ben's more folk style. This was what I LOVED about the first album. It was so interesting, so unique! It is undefinable. I wanted to hear more! This album with it's heavier, more classic rock sound, at least in my mind, tends to lump itself together with every other album of this type. This album does not stand out. It sounds like all the other straight forward rock that is out there at this time. I like and enjoy heavy or hardcore music, but frankly this album bores me.

You only talk about the negative aspects of the album. You don't even try to see that fact that the Raconteurs are sticking to their roots and payin homage to a legendary (in my opinion) time in rock music, that of course being the late '60s through the '70s, and at the same time staying fresh and enjoyable to young listeners such as myself.
Though I do suppose you would know what it means to be pretentious.
:Z:

Get a new job and a set of ears, you jackass. This is easily one of the best albums of the last 5 years.

Why is it for most of my life every album that I really enjoy most critics hate? At least the restaurant critics get it right most of the time. You guys are useless.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on March 25, 2008 2:34 PM.

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