Jack White
Boarding House Reach


2.0
poor

Review

by BlownSpeakers USER (13 Reviews)
April 4th, 2018 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "As a maker, you tend to do too much, because you’re there with all the tools and you keep putting things in. As a listener, you’re happy with quite a lot less." - Brian Eno

In an interview with Charlie Rose in 2005 while promoting his then new White Stripes album, Get Behind Me Satan, Jack White explained how “there’s more creativity when there’s less opportunity.” Being composed of only Jack’s vocals and guitar work, and Meg White’s primitive but powerful drumming, the White Stripes proved their minimalist motto time and time again with a sound that managed to both pay tribute to Jack’s blues rock obsessions of yesteryear while being something entirely new in itself. It was a sound that was intimate yet gigantic.

In the seven years since the band broke up, White has actually shown a lot of success going in the complete opposite direction of his past ideals. With solo records, Blunderbuss (2012) and Lazaretto (2014) and their respective tours, White ventured out beyond the iconic two-member lineup to pursue a sound that was more orchestral, expanding his lineup to include piano, cello, fiddle, and mandolin to name a few. It was a decision warranted by the opportunity to create a more textured, nuanced sound, and one that enabled him to take bigger leaps as he genre hopped from track to track. On his latest record, Boarding House Reach, the guitar god follows in this continuously expansive direction by employing Kendrick Lamar’s live backing band, in an effort to incorporate a healthy dose of funk, hip hop, and electronica into his patented blues rock sound. Unfortunately, it all fails to come together in a captivating way, and instead comes off forced, disjointed, and obnoxious.

The funny thing is what Jack is going for on this album feels like it has already been accomplished with his 2014 track, “Lazaretto.” With the track being a cohesive mixture of hip hop-esque lyricism, funk, white’s roaring guitar work, and electronic flourishes, the end product sounded like the sonic offspring of Portishead meets Led Zeppelin. The track was a one off on a record that mostly followed White’s folk ambitions, but god damn, what an opener it was!

Boarding House Reach, a listen that manages to be worse than its album cover (artwork that looks like it would have appealed to a late and sadly deranged Michael Jackson), takes this sound and does something terribly disjointed with it. The track I believe encapsulates most of the album’s problems is “Hypermisophoniac.” In a recent interview with ALT 98.7, he described his intent with the track as an attempt to take “annoying musical sounds and make something beautiful with them.” I think this is a challenging task but the risk has proven worth the reward in the past with records like Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition (2016) or Beck’s Mellow Gold (1994), but unlike those records he fails to bring these drastically different sounds together in a way that’s listenable in any conventional sense. Perhaps, the track is better taken as a ride in abstraction, but it’s hard to believe the trip would ever elicit a response beyond annoyance. Unfortunately, the results of this song, and on a larger scale, this album, come nowhere close to being “beautiful.”

Yet, Jack White is doing a bang-up job of marketing his new record. In his latest round of interviews, he’s been speaking about the experimental direction he took with the album, how it’s a “grower,” and how he still puts himself in hard situations to yield creativity. It’s all classic Jack White interview material, and it’s all does a majestic job of covering up the major pitfalls of this record. Songs like “Respect Commander” and “Corporation” paint the picture of an artist with too many toys in the studio. The tracks are so overloaded it’s hard not to think of the scene in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story where Dewey is high out of his mind and is desperately trying to craft a masterpiece in the studio by adding an endless number of musicians, styles, and sounds to his track. Though the scene was parodying classic rock artists of the 60s, who reaped more rewards from their drug induced experimentation, Jack White seems to be of sober mind as of late and yet still manages to be in the same boat as Dewey: with an absolute mess. It’s a rare case of life imitating art, imitating life. Factor in the fact that Jack White made a cameo in the film as an impulsively karate chopping Elvis, and your mind-*** for the day is set.

Critiquing this record just seems in bad taste because of what a large-scale misfire it is. Picking apart the deranged podium rantings of “Everything You’ve Learned” would be like pulling a wheelchair out from under someone, and poking fun at the dad-rap of “Ice Station Zebra” would be no better than laughing at someone with a stutter that’s trudging through a Shakespearian monologue. So, rather than continue with pointless “bullying,” perhaps it’s better take a note from “Everything You Learned” and instead ask “better questions”-

So…what happened"



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user ratings (208)
Chart.
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
Simon.K CONTRIBUTOR (2)
A bold move with poor execution....

Tunaboy45 (4.5)
You thrill and fill this heart of mine....

Pagepage250 (4)
Jack White takes a bold move that works out in almost every respect...

related reviews

Lazaretto

Blunderbuss


Comments:Add a Comment 
BlownSpeakers
April 4th 2018


94 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Sources

Brian Eno Interview: https://pitchfork.com/features/interview/10023-a-conversation-with-brian-eno-about-ambient-music/

White Stripes Charlie Rose Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDVduMCo01o

Jack White ALT 98.7 Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4xkhRp4gjE&feature=youtu.be&t=5m17s

BlownSpeakers
April 4th 2018


94 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Where does this album fall for you guys: Masterpiece, Meh, or Trash?

coma2rium
April 4th 2018


78 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yo what the fuck that was Jack White as Elvis in Dewey Cox???? Mind blown. I like this album more than you... I think. I honestly can't tell if this is genius or drivel yet.

BlownSpeakers
April 4th 2018


94 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

lolol It's one of the best cameos in history. I lean more towards drivel, but hey, a lot of people love this record.

JWT155
April 4th 2018


14063 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Album is meh. It's not terrible by nay stretch and I appreciate the "jam session" vibe of this but none of the songs stuck out to me.

BlownSpeakers
April 4th 2018


94 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Pretty much agree, JWT155. I could appreciate the improvisational quality to the record too but it sounds like he never listened back to any of it, and just slapped them on the record. I think most of what he's doing here is intentional but I don't think that makes it sound any better.

JWT155
April 4th 2018


14063 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

For sure, hell I'd even pay to see Jack White rock out and jam like he does on this record, but as a cohesive record it doesn't really seem to have an identity, it's all over the place, it's experimentalish but no instrument or voice really takes the lead in any tracks. It's all blah.

BlownSpeakers
April 4th 2018


94 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Jack White is pretty fuckin' crazy live. Saw him once with WS and once solo, both excellent shows.

gryndstone
April 4th 2018


1094 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hypermisophoniac is a song you listen to once with a bewildered look on your face and then never again



Good review

BlownSpeakers
April 4th 2018


94 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Haha. I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for the support!

Tunaboy45
April 4th 2018


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

preparing to bump my rating

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