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Sunday, May 19, 2024

After the Raconteurs got burned a few years back for proclaiming to NME that "Broken Boy Soldiers" would be their answer to Nirvana's "Nevermind," they apparently decided to dial down the hype machine.

Not only did "Consolers of the Lonely" drop a mere seven days after its release announcement, it also validates suspicions that this is not an actual band as previously claimed, but in fact the Detroit chapter of the Jack White Fan Club.

Admittedly, Brendan Benson and The Greenhornes boys make for one hell of a tribute band. They give credence to the long-presumed notion that ass-kissing works much more effectively when done with a high degree of competence.

The four churn out the best tunes, though, when they collectively drop the hero worship in favor of beer-buddy garage jams and off-the-cuff rockers.

Stomping opener "Consoler of the Lonely" sounds almost ad-libbed, combining crackling White Stripe's style riffs with tossed-off lyrics that would enlighten only the blind.

White sings, "Haven't seen the sun in weeks/my skin is getting pale."

Gratuitous even to Captain Obvious, it's at least a line that provides a refreshing dose of self-deprecating frivolity.

Soak in these moments because they're few and far between. The bulk of the album works only as a lesson in buzz-killing finesse.

Clean cut and Nashville spit shined, "Consolers" strings together a series of streamlined ballads - all perfectly tuneful, none particularly interesting.

Take closing song "Carolina Drama" (spoiler alert: in a case of mistaken identity, Billy accidentally beats down his old man with a bottle of milk). It comes off as refined and deeply earnest, and particularly rewarding for those still awake to hear the climactic sing-along.

It's too bad because the guitar workouts, no matter how spontaneously arranged, are truly sounds to behold.

Two honest-to-goodness collaborations, "Five on the Five" and follow up "Attention" kindle visions of a sublimely warped Stripes future in which Jack springs for a bass guitar and drum lessons for Meg.

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The former succeeds as a Weezer-plays-"Elephant" crossover complete with crunching six-string assault and an "Oh, Oh"-tinged chorus.

If it doesn't kill on radio, somebody needs to axe the Warner Bros.' A&R reps.

Still, in the end, everybody, listener included, is here for one guy. The three others simply play Robin to White's Batman.

They know Jack's always had a thing for red.

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