Monday, 9 July 2007

THE RACONTEURS - Broken Boy Soldiers (2006)

The first thing you think of when you're listening to the debut album of The Racounters is 'what is that? White Stripes trying to sound like Deep Purple?'.

Take it easy. Jack White himself plays on this album; this is his new project. In his own words, it's "A new band made up of old friends." Specifically, it is Brendan Benson and Jack White; they co-write the ten songs as other legendary partners did (Lennon-McCartney, Jagger-Richards) and sing almost all the tracks in duet. Their sound is completed by drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence.

Broken Boy Soldiers is a big album, with all the power of rock and roll and blues. The sound appears to be influenced by The Pixies (intros of “Steady, As She Goes” and “Broken Boy Soldier”), Deep Purple (the keyboards on “Store Bought Bones”), Janis Joplin ("Blue Veins"), The Kinks ("Yellow Sun") and the psychedelic songs of The Beatles (the reverse effects on “Blue Veins”).

The Racounters recorded an album that is so natural, spontaneous, and powerful that it makes you say: "Where is my guitar! I can write songs like that." They makes it look easy when it’s so hard; That's talent.

There is nothing new in the guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums. The arrangements are good and are mixed well. All the songs smell like seventies rock anthems. The influences are so obvious, but all the songs are very good. Please don’t ask me for highlights! When all the new bands are trying to sound like something really new (is this possible in rock and roll?), we have The Racounters that give us ten solid songs. That is what the listener wants; good songs. If you insist on the highlights, my favourite is “Together” but the singles are “Steady, As She Goes”, “Hands” and “Broken Boy Soldier”.

Benson and White sing almost all the songs as a duet. They make very interesting vocal arrangements, which build up the 'Racounters sound'. The vocal timing on “Blue Veins” is amazing, Janis would cry in her grave. But, I need to say that the arrangements on “Call It A Day” remind me of Alice in Chains. I don’t know if the band had the soul of Stanley in mind when they recorded it.

There is nothing special about the lyrics, but with all of those emo bands buzzing your ears, you really appreciate a band with a mature way of seeing life: “Your friends have shown a kink in the single life / You've had to much to think, now you need a wife” (“Steady, As She Goes”). As they sing on “Together”: “You've gotta learn to live and live and learn”.

I would like to mention the design of their web page. It simulates the old 80s computers.

Finally a blasphemy, Jack White does it better with The Racounters than the White Stripes. Sorry Meg, maybe rock and roll is a game for boys.

Published on Blogcritics on 07-07-2007

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