Surprise, We’re Back!
Opting out of traditional publicity and marketing, The Raconteurs’ second album was announced and subsequently released with little more than a week’s notice. Stated publicly as an attempt to have all fans and critics engaging with the album at the same time, and perhaps likely an unofficial effort to stem the tide of Internet piracy, Consolers of the Lonely is a quick detour around standard methods of music purchase. While boldly removing the album from the world of marketing budgets and press lead time, the deployment still lacks the consumer-friendly edge Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have each brought to the table on their own sudden direct-to-fan releases. The music, thankfully, is far from stale, excellent even if it does lyrically present a world-weary sense of frustration throughout.Evolving the neo-garage leanings of the foursome’s Broken Boy Soldiers into singer/guitar players Jack White and Brendan Benson’s previously explored realms of country, folk and bluegrass, Consolers of the Lonely is a diverse and engrossing album. The horn-laden Old West romp “The Switch and the Spur” segues from cinematic punctuation into a rollicking climax complete with the album’s most haunting line, “So enter this path, but heed these four words / You shall never return.” Similarly, closer “Carolina Drama” tells a vast tale of deceit, confusion and anger, White wailing like an old blues cat over acoustic guitars and electric slide riffs.
As with The Raconteurs’ first album Benson splits vocal duties with White bringing a polished vocal intonation to songs such as the keyboard-driven “Attention” and the break-up pledge of “Many Shades of Black.” Indeed, some of the album’s strongest material (the title track, “Salute Your Solution,” “You Donâ€šÃ„Ã´t Understand Me,” “Top Yourself”) combine topics of failing romance, malaise over privileged lifestyle and trepidation over incessant progress in an advancing modern world. Even though all serve as defiant statements of dissatisfaction, all are packed to the brim with melodyâ€šÃ„Ã®gobs and gobs of melody in fact. And even though its announcement and distribution became focal points, the real story here is that the album is one enrapturing song after another, a well-written sophomore effort.