The Raconteurs Consolers of the Lonely (Third Man Records, 2008)

The Raconteurs are something of anomaly in rock music in the sense that the band is a side project for its four members. The most famous Raconteur is Jack White, the singer, guitarist, and occasional keyboardist for The White Stripes. But the other members have separate careers as well; Brendan Benson (vocals, guitar, keyboards) has made several solo albums, and Jack Lawrence (bass) and Patrick Keeler (drums) are part of a band called The Greenhornes. Consolers of the Lonely is The Raconteurs' second album.

Jack White may have built his reputation on creating a sound that's even more minimalist than punk -- The White Stripes are basically a power trio minus the bass player -- but with The Raconteurs he settles comfortably into a more standard two guitar, bass, and drums configuration. He and Benson share the vocals throughout the disc. This is a good thing in my estimation, as I've never considered White's voice to be a selling point. The sound on Consolers of the Lonely leans heavily towards anthemic classic rock, with a few loud rave-ups thrown in for good measure. Several of the songs, most notably "The Switch and the Spur," feature dramatic shifts in the mood part of the way in.

I sort of have mixed feelings about Consolers of the Lonely on the whole. On one hand, it sounds like the kind of album that would have become a staple of classic rock radio had it been made thirty or more years ago. On the other hand, I think their general approach sounds a little bit dated now. I like my share of bands with something of a retro sound, like The Soundtrack of Our Lives for example. But that particular band is more melodic than The Raconteurs, with a bit more emphasis on musicality and less on volume, and I guess that's why they sound fresher to me.

Overall grade: B-

reviewed by Scott

"Salute Your Solution"

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