The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely (4 stars)

The Raconteurs

(XL Recordings)

ROCK

When Jack White and best bud Brendan Benson teamed up for their debut it was very much a meeting of minds: pop craftsman meets blues rebel, uptown. The results were explosive, both players breaking from familiar constraints to create something new and distinct.

For their second collaborative effort they’ve buffed up the raggedy edges and applied some high gloss rock sheen without losing the intensity or humour of their debut.

Jack White’s unfettered passion for raw blues comes across as an untempered Led Zeppelin fetish, and while the quartet don’t have the dynamic steer or slender splendour of Page and Plant they have plenty of bombastic tricks up their sleeves. ‘You Don’t Understand Me’ and ‘Many Shades of Black’ are as sentimental and anthemic as White has ever been while ‘These Stones Will Shout’ is a marvel of Who-ish ingenuity.

The hackneyed mariachi horns of ‘The Switch and the Spur’ and the sugary bumble of ‘Old Enough’ are probably the only two really weak points here and the band hit their apogee when they cut loose, the title track and ‘Five on the Five’ being keen illustrations. Comparisons with The White Stripes are inevitable, perhaps, but The Raconteurs hold up as a group with sufficiently separate an identity, if not sound, to warrant our full attention.

More than just a cunning marketing exercise, Consolers of the Lonely is an accomplished record, hardly futuristic, but which has manic thrills all of its very own.

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