Jack White
Boarding House Reach


2.0
poor

Review

by Simon STAFF
March 24th, 2018 | 177 replies


Release Date: 03/23/2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A bold move with poor execution.

Occasionally there are times when I’ll sit and listen to a record and just after finishing it, lean back in my uncomfortable dining table chair and muse over the whole thing. Not because the music had a positive or negative effect on me, on the contrary, I’ll go into this meditative state to try and mull over what the artist’s intentions were when making the album. What was the goal? Why did they release the album in its finished state? Sometimes it takes this moment of thought and reflection to process what you’ve just heard and hope you can decide whether it’s a masterstroke of sonic genius or a jangled, pretentious disaster by the time you’re done thinking about it.

In the case of Jack White, he’s always been a little eccentric – a talented one no less – but his music boarders on these two factors frequently for me. Is he a 21st century off-centre Zappa or a creatively bankrupt hack using a barrage of electronic noodling and eclectic stylings to disorientate your conclusion? Honestly, the jury is still out on that one. But the problem with Boarding House Reach when compared to the rest of his solo work is that it throws a numbing amount of ideas at you from the moment it starts and doesn’t give an inch until it stops. It’s an arty-farty assault on all fronts and even with some genuinely excellent elements wielded at the core of the album, it’s still a buffet of avant-garde song-writing and questionably nonsensical compositional and lyrical ideas. Conventional is a word to be seldom used here. “Connected By Love” is an excellent starting point for this: opening the track with an ominous mood setter of phaser electronics that sway across the spectrum of the song and synth horns that bellow out to create a nice 70’s aesthetic, but the song is quickly thwarted by a melodramatic performance from Jack that has him whining “we’re connected by love!", with the elevation of grandness from the support of the gospel choir behind him. It’s catchy, but there’s a bleak dourness looming over it all that makes it too dark to be taken light-heartedly and yet, its goofiness ultimately sours the track to a point where it can’t be taken all that seriously either.

This is the biggest crutch for Boarding House Reach in my eyes; there’s so much going on in any one song and it’s hard to determine a clear goal for anything here. “Corporation” is probably the strongest number here, as it opens up with an “Immigrant Song”, Led Zeppelin-esque drum beat that instantly has you moving with the groove, partnered with further delight as a Frank Zappa sounding guitar riff begins to drive the piece along. The progression of the track is met with furious bongo patters and tremolo picking guitar, making the track increasingly unhinged and erratic while Jack does a fine job in upping this factor with his screaming and shouting of "I’m thinking of starting a corporation". It’s a rare moment here where all the 70’s rock homage works harmoniously. Unfortunately, moments like this are few and far between and you’ll be hearing more from a song like “Hypermisophoniac” than anything else; a track that contains minimal structure and bat*** vocal work that’ll leave you completely unfulfilled and unable to shake the feeling you’re wasting your time here.

And yet, with the weighty crap that holds a song like “Hypermisophoniac” together, surprisingly, the album doesn’t drag its heels like it should. That’s because the Rage Against the Machine influenced main riff and bouncy groove, coupled with a rap-approached vocal performance for “Over and Over and Over”, become the left-field surprises needed to see this thing through to the end. It’s not a good album, but it’s far from an uninteresting one. It feels like a collection of songs performed and acted out with instinctual emotion; like improvised Live Art, or a flamboyant theatre play. It’s an interesting puzzle of a record, which adds further complexities to Jack’s character, but you can’t help but feel his creative spark is dulling out with every album – which is ironic given the free rein that’s being ran with here. Boarding House Reach offers a mountain pile of intrigue but fails to restrain itself and make out on solid tracks, and what you’re left with is a mix bag of obscure ideas with little payoff. In fact, “improvised” is probably the most applicable word to use here because I don’t think Jack even knew what was going on during the creative development of Boarding House Reach. It’s worth a spin for curiosity’s sake, but don’t go into this expecting solid guitar work, titillating solos or any other commonly appealing trait to Jack White because you’ll be sorely disappointed.

POOR.

EDITIONS: DIGITAL//C̶D̶//V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶

SPECIAL EDITION: N/A

PACKAGING: N/A



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0

ross.

Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'd like to add, the artwork for this thing is horrible.

Digging: Desert Sessions - Volumes 11 and 12

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


42719 Comments


the alternate artwork is dope however

I liked this a lot more than you did but nice review

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


42719 Comments


one note, 'performed' not 'performanced' in the last para

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

dang, always one error that slips the net. lol



cheers row

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

also, havent got the alt art at hand have you man? can't seem to find it.



edit: found it, yeah it is a lot better

Asdfp277
March 24th 2018


21716 Comments


if you have the original review, replace the "?"s with this: ?. The question mark glitch is still at full swing

i kinda like this cover, it's very creative and evocative of something artistic idk

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

hmm, no way I can get the ?without it being bold?

Asdfp277
March 24th 2018


21716 Comments


it's not actually bold if you're reading this from a cellphone, it's the fullwidth (read: vaporave) version of the question mark

there are other characters you might use that are featured in unicode, but from the ones i know this is the best option

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

ahh, ok. cheers

Asdfp277
March 24th 2018


21716 Comments


example︖ (there's no space between the word and the symbol btw)


does that look better?


EvoHavok
March 24th 2018


7702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh man, I really dug his previous solo stuff. Will see how this goes.

DoofusWainwright
March 24th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

I might need to review this just to unlock that 0.5 rating is what I'm thinking - two tracks I've already heard from this blow very hard

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Haha never change doof

Evok
March 24th 2018


7747 Comments


That album cover is BAD

StickFeit
March 24th 2018


1025 Comments


Fantastic record.

Digging: Left Behind - No One Goes To Heaven

WhiteNoise
March 24th 2018


3666 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I completely understand why People would hate this, but I'm totally into it.

Another Fuzz garage album flirting with country would've been boring. This is so off the wall that I have to admire it.



You would never catch a band like Foo Fighters put out something this ridiculous.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


15809 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Completely agree with you. You can't fault him for trying something new

butcherboy
March 24th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

white's been lapsing for years now.. shit album, great review..

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2018


17134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah this is a lot of fun, but probably somewhere between a 3 and 3.5 for me

DoofusWainwright
March 24th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Somewhere between a 0.5 and a 1 for me, so I'm facing a similar dilemma



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