Witness the Awesome Power of the Dark Side
In a world full of heroes, a villain is what makes things interesting. It’s not really a new fact, but it seems to be forgotten quite a bit. So many in music strive to create beautiful, inviting sounds for all to enjoy almost ignoring the allure of the wrong side of the tracks. Jack White, the undisputed focal point of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs, has been churning out an overwhelmingly likable brand of not-quite-psychedelic garage rock for over a decade, keeping a lot of potential sinisterness in check. Horehound, the debut from The Dead Weather, sees not only White but Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs) and Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) all fully embracing the dark side of rock and roll.
Those wanting more White Stripes-like garage rock or Raconteurs tunefulness should brace themselves. White’s production immediately sets Dead Weather apart from his previous work with spots of eerily quiet space, like dark alleys that mild-mannered pedestrians refuse to enter, between sounds brimming with a turbid dankness to which no pop polish could adhere. When Mosshart snarls “I can take the trouble / ‘Cause I’m 60 feet tall” in the opener “60 Feet Tall,” this is the point of no return for the listener for all the right reasons. The choices are to either retreat back into the safety of other Jack White projects or enter a brave new world of sludged-up blasts of bass, grinding guitars and jagged blues tempos. Only in this world could Mosshart boast in a lead single “I’d like to grab you by the hair / And hang you up from the heavens,” or the muddy, organ-driven rocksteady of “Cut Like a Buffalo” be so magnetic and “3 Birds,” with its No-Wave-meets-Korn’s “Freak on a Leash” instrumental groove, be so haunting.
Horehound is seemingly less about Jack White than other White-related projects and more geared towards the solidified unit that is The Dead Weather. That White chose to revert back to drums, produce the album and write many of the songs will make it easy for many to hand him the plaudits. Though the music is clearly new, Alison Mosshart embodies, appropriately, a traveled survivor reminiscent of an early Patty Smith. However, The Dead Weather as a collective are the undisputed stars of this show.