Review Summary: Jack White's new project proves resourceful, but their debut album may be an infant before a greater one.
Jack White must know that there are pros and cons for being a man that never sleeps. At this point, he’s been stamped as the musician that’s been everywhere and is planning to be everywhere else. First, there was The White Stripes. Then he played around a little bit in The Upholsterers, gained friends in The Raconteurs…the man even has a solo album coming out within a year. So what’s with The Dead Weather? Like I said, there are pros and cons. The good thing is that by now, White has a strong following of people that would listen to him churn butter and hum for 70 minutes. Not to mention he has built an impressive musical career that conjures up even his own curiosity. He can plunge into any group he wants with support.
The bad thing? He can plunge into any group that he wants. If he wants to keep his position as a purposeful and entertaining person, he has to be fresh in every way - and not just by switching instruments. On his latest involvement, White tried to birth a beast of his own and not fuse already living beasts together into a tired, bumbling chimaera. The result of the birth is a healthy, multi-sexed, and shadowy creature. To fully appreciate this, you have to take a look at the super-speed world we live in today. As Jack has said in interview upon interview: The obsession with reporting and dissecting entertainment's newest acts makes it difficult for a band to take its time to grow, form a definite sound, and line its muses in order. For a ‘super group‘? Forget about that altogether.
It’s true, Jack is now an official drummer for an official band. Retiring (metaphorically) his lead singer role for Alison Mosshart of The Kills to take over, he also recruits Jack Lawrence from The Raconteurs on bass and Queens of the Stone Age’s Dean Fertita on guitar. These specific pickings do their best to give each other the advantage rather than grapple for center-stage. This is the key to making the original, raw, and natural project that White has longed for. Whether or not you’re a fan of White, you have to admire this astute casting for such a project.
The Dead Weather’s debut album, Horehound
, contains an opulent amount of voltaic blues and dark, sinful grooves all the way through and wastes no time arriving there. “60 Feet Tall
” fires the starting gun for what’s going to be a clouded swim through unsure waters. Quickly, though, it’s all pulled together into a clear picture as if the main ambition of the collected four came together right at that moment. The pounding beat mixed with Alison's fiery vocals gives this album a great kickoff. As we know from The Kills, Mosshart has always been an expert at provoking with lyrics - “You’re so cruel and shameless…I can‘t leave you be”. I'm sure you can almost see her puffing her cigarette in between lines. Her voice is bitter enough to carry the harsh blues and angry grunge luggage that the other members bring onboard. The riffs driving the tunes affirm that Fertita was absolutely the right guitarist for the job minus Jack. Speaking of, it’s reassuring to hear that White doesn’t feel the need to introduce some zany drumming style but still demonstrates some familiarity with the kit (insert Meg joke). One of the album’s highlights steps up with “I Cut Like A Buffalo
” where White gets the opportunity to open his mouth, bawling over an organ that might have been copyrighted by Count Dracula.
These types of hook-invading songs act as Horehound
’s stability center - its legs. You’ll find the album’s radiance in these legs such as the interest-peaking “Treat Me Like Your Mother
” (the demand alone is pretty intriguing…). You get a little glimpse of Mosshart’s rocking ability in front of a powered beat that should keep anyone’s attention off elsewhere.
has these songs to stand on, it does its best to attractively drape its coat and fill in the gaps. Sometimes it works, like in their attempt at juicing up Bob Dylan’s “New Pony
” with an obviously more explosive and sinful motive - Mosshart shrieking “I want to climb up one time on you” should foster that idea nicely - and sometimes you can’t tell if it works like the transparent “So Far From Your Weapon
”. A few songs fall into that category of underwhelming. Even their malevolent lead single, “Hang You From The Heavens
” could be branded as monotonous for its repetitive melody. The blandness of the song, thankfully, seems to be the exception, and not the rule, for The Dead Weather.
Striding into some minor but vulnerable barricades, The Dead Weather makes one great eerie-sounding, swamp-dwelling, venomous debut album that can be seen as a platform to greater accomplishments.