The Raconteurs :: Consolers of The Lonely


There’s something to be said for guerrilla marketing. The Raconteurs, the super-group that’s only a super-group if you’re a hard-nosed indie-rock person to begin with, announced the release of their sophomore album only one week before its street date. I liked that. It’s gutsy and, in an age when record companies worry about pirates and stuff, it’s one way to get ahead of the game – just don’t give anyone time to leak the album. The stunt calls attention to the album, allows word of mouth to get around, and hopefully you’ve got yourself a slow, simmering sales winner.

So, just how is Consolers of the Lonely? It’s good. Quite good. And is easily the better of the two Raconteurs albums so far. But the very things that made the band seem like it could be more than just another Jack White project aren’t emphasized in the way they need to be. The result is a seriously solid rock album with flashes of genre brilliance.

“You Don’t Understand Me,” three songs in, is the first to really take some advantage of the obvious talent for stylistic mining. Moving away from the opening two tracks’ blues-on-steroids archetype, the song uses Beatles style harmonies and some really tremendous and tasteful piano playing to undergird an amped up soul workout. It’s immediately followed by “Old Enough,” a Brendan Benson-sung tune that sounds like a slicker version of what Oakley Hall has been doing so extremely well for their past couple of albums – dabbles of Southern rock and jam-band sensibility squeezed into a pop-length song. “Many Shades of Black” revisits the territory of earlier – injecting some truly wicked guitar and horn work – ultimately ending up with something that sounds like a cover of something straight out of the 60s heyday of pop soul.

These songs, along with a few others ( the back-to-back “Rich Kid Blues”/”These Stones Will Shout” especially), are the album’s highlights, unquestionably. The rest of sounds like a fuller-band version of the type of music Jack White has been channeling with the White Stripes’ last few albums – so, sadly, it’s just not as interesting. They provide a lot of power – those aforementioned opening two tracks are pretty stellar, as is the note-perfect rave-up, “Hold Up” – but with the album coming in at just under an hour, those moments become too frequent. They aren’t broken up enough by the broader tracks and by the time you reach the end, it’s just not holding your attention as well. Ultimately this is an album with a good handful of really remarkable songs and then a lot of quality tracks that just seem like a holding pattern. From a band that includes one of the more exciting retro-musicians of the 2000s and some cohorts who create some amazingly vibrant music on their own as well (Benson’s solo work is ridiculously good), this is more than a bit frustrating. – j. neas

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8 thoughts on “The Raconteurs :: Consolers of The Lonely

  1. i tend to only comment on stuff i disagree with here (and i agree with so much!)

    i love this album, but for me i WANT the Rac’s to be The Jack White Band. he’s a singular talent and when he shares the limelight with Brendan it feels forced. my favorite tracks are the Stripes-iest tracks…blue veigns on the first one and consolers, salute, five and carolina.

    count me in the faction that don’t judge them as a supergroup. the backing members are just that. the more jack vocals and more jack licks the better!

  2. While some of the songs do sound like nothing more than Jack White with a band, the standout tracks are really good. Carolina Drama just might be the song of the year. I would recommend this album to anyone looking for a rockin indie-type album.

  3. This is better than Broken Boy Soldier, but like Jon says if jack ain’t taking charge it aint that great. Jack has managed to keep his day job, but benson’s solo work and The greenhornes have seemingly suffered due to this band. Which is sad.

    I would rather have The White Stripes, Benson solo, and The Greenhornes all going full steam than this diluted product which wastes their enormous talent.

    That being said these guys have a great time together and tell the press all the time. I almost think that if they got too good they would suddenly fall apart.

  4. I should preface any other comments with the fact that I’m a huge WS fan. That said, I really enjoy hearing Jack play with a (talented) full band, not to mention a drummer with real ability, and find the Racs very entertaining. Benson’s sing-songy, pop vocal style is occasionally grating on me, but I think his and Jack’s styles complement each other well. As for this album, I think it bests the first one in maturity and complexity, but I still think the raw edge on several of the first album’s tracks are formidable. Like one of the other commentors here, the jump-out tracks to me are Five on the Five and Attention. Overall though, I enjoy the whole disc and appreciate the diversity from song to song.

    Whether you dig the Stripes or not, these guys are worth checking out and I would give this disc 2 thumbs up.

  5. Too bad the album leaked despite the street-date shenanigans. Hell, iTunes was letting people buy it for a few hours about two weeks ago.

    There’s just no beating the leakers.

  6. Just wondering, is Jack White still in The White Stripes, or are they taking a hiatus, or is The Ranconteurs just a side-project?
    I honestly don’t know, and, I’ve been a fan of The White Stripes for a couple years now, I’m just honestly curious

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