Consolers Of The Lonely
Warner Bros., 2008
REVIEW BY: Josh Allen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/23/2010
“Raconteur.” Noun. A person skilled at telling stories or anecdotes.
But The Raconteurs ask: why simply tell a story when you can slap a guitar here, some horns there, and a little banjo and fiddle over yonder -- and then sell a few hundred thousand records?
Consolers Of The Lonely nabbed the spotlight unexpectedly in May 2008 when its release was made public only one week before hitting shelves. The Nashville-based supergroup’s debut album from ‘06, Broken Boy Soldiers, hinted at greatness, but with only ten tracks that scarcely outlasted a half hour, they left you desperately wanting more. Brendan Benson, Jack White, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler delivered: Consolers shattered even the highest expectations established by its predecessor.
All four members continuously brandish their talents throughout the entire album, experimenting with widely varied and thickly textured instrumentation. It’scertainly a 180 from White’s previous works with The White Stripes, which favored minimalism.
Benson and White tag-team vocal duties throughout the album. It’s an interesting contrast: Benson’s refined voice of pop music origin against White’s raw, “controlled-chaos” singing/yelling. The opener, “Consoler Of The Lonely”, exemplifies this, as the contrast between the two singing styles is accented by sharp changes in tempo.
The next three tracks just might be the best back-to-back-to-back I’ve ever heard. The album’s single “Salute Your Solution” is straight-up rock reminiscent of Zeppelin; “You Don’t Understand Me” has an undeniable beauty about it, between expressive piano riffs and meaningful lyrics (“You don’t understand me / But if the feeling was right / You might comprehend me”); and “Old Enough” somehow manages to legitimately mesh a fiddle with pop-style hooks.
Nowhere do the Raconteurs fulfill their roles as storytellers more clearly than in the “The Switch And The Spur,” a farcical track that vividly reminds you of the stereotypical Old West, peppered with mysterious lyrics and blaring trumpets -- in one brief moment mimicking a horse’s neigh, if you listen closely. And just when you’re ready for a breather, the album manages to test your limits even further with the unbridled “Hold Up” and “Five On The Five.”
If Consolers has a weak spot at all, it lies in the back-to-back tracks “Attention” and the offbeat “Pull This Blanket Off.” Given the nine-track marathon that opened the album, maybe it’s not all bad to regain your composure a little, much like the fake ending at a concert before the blistering encore.
“Carolina Drama,” sort of a hard-edged Dylan-esque closer, is yet ANOTHER somewhat outrageous story about the attempted murder of a priest, stopped at the last moment when the priest’s son smashes a bottle of milk on the forehead of the would-be killer. It may be completely unbelievable, but White convinces you beyond a doubt that it actually happened.
ConsolersOf The Lonely is a rare gem that demands your attention (and awe) for its entirety. It’s only after your CD player loops back to Track 1 that you realize you feel exactly like you did after Broken Boy Soldiers.