Consolers Of The Lonely - The Raconteurs 
Well, this was a bolt from the blue.
After a mismatched first album from this Jack White/Brendan Benson lovemaking session, I thought this was a project gone wrong - a tiresome whim annoyingly taking songwriting time out of Jack's White Stripes commitments.
Then this came along and, not to put too fine a point on it, how wrong I was.
Consolers Of The Lonely is an astonishing roughtooth gem of an album, harking back to the sounds of Zeppelin et al but with an even older quality to it. Recorded in double-quick time then rushed out with absolutely no promotion for release a few weeks later (apparently the band liked the idea of people finding it on the shelves and wondering if it had always been there) it should have been an even bigger disaster than the first album.
(Actually, I'm being a bit harsh on Broken Boy Soldiers: it's all right, really.)
But Consolers Of The Lonely is much better than all right, and much better than the mixed reviews it received. Each one agreed the album was chaotic; not all agreed this was a good thing.
It definitely is in my book. The frantic pace of lead single Salute Your Solution gets the adrenaline running, and epic closer Carolina Drama is an incredible effort that thrives on the chaos of the record (no one knows how the story ends, admits White in the song). An account of violence and greed in, well, Carolina, it rattles along thanks to superb fiddling and anguished vocals and by the end seems to struggle to contain itself. As the orchestral mayhem rises, the song breaks free and breaks down into a joyful, anarchic nonsense refrain of "La la la"s, helping the album to reach a perfectly imperfect zenith - beautiful chaos.
It's not even the best song on the album, and neither is Salute Your Solution. Even the title track, with its sublime changes of pace and White and Benson swapping vocals so smoothly it takes a while to notice, doesn't win the honour. No, it's Top Yourself - not about suicide; about bettering oneself - with its amazing blues sound, all slide guitar, banjo and bitter, spitting lyrics, that most deserves listen after listen after listen.
I don't know what's going to become of The Raconteurs, but I really hope they make an album as enjoyable as this one. Shit, I didn't even mention You Don't Understand Me and its wonderful piano. Ah, just listen to it.
2 years ago