The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers (2006): Review

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Produced by Jack White and Brendan Benson
Label – V2/XL/Third Man

When Jack White decided to relieve himself from the constraints of The White Stripes and teamed up with Brendan Benson and the rhythm section from a little known Cincinnati band called The Greenhornes to form The Raconteurs there was a sense that the combination would provide some interesting results. More than a pleasant surprise, their debut album is a colossal achievement. For direction, take any decent rock, pop or psychedelia record from the period 1966 – 71 and in a nutshell that is the sum total of “Broken Boy Soldiers”. There’s some simple reasons why both band and output works beyond one’s expectations. White is very much a quarter of the demographic (often appearing at the back of press photos). Secondly, and more importantly, the reference points for their music are at different ends of the spectrum. White is the 60s influenced blues/rock guitar man, whilst Benson is the classic pop fan. This combination, allied with the tight garage/rock rhythms from Lawrence and Keeler moulds the sonic dynamic of the band perfectly. For every tasty lick, crunching riff or powerful thump, there’s a simply strummed acoustic and sweet melodic tune to bolster the appeal.

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“Steady As She Goes”, the lead off single, exemplifies the simple pop overtones with White’s harder lead. The song welcomes the listener to some excellent moments, including “Hands”, which combines Benson’s love struck melody with White’s distorted riffing,all set to a grunge era rhythmical backdrop. “Intimate Secretary” sounds positively Zeppelin-esque as it absorbs middle eastern beats and an easy going, trippy arrangement. The closer (“Blue Veins”} is vital, and is sonically the closest to The White Stripes sound. However, the title track is the star attraction, as psychedelic keyboards open up for White’s wail allied with some of the most punchy, vibrant guitar work of his career.

“Broken Boy Soldiers” pulls influence from all the great classic rock and pop from its developing era, shakes it around a little for a masterpiece that is bang up to date.

9/10

Track Listing
1.”Steady, As She Goes” 3:35
2.”Hands” 4:01
3.”Broken Boy Soldier” 3:02
4.”Intimate Secretary” 3:30
5.”Together” 3:58
6.”Level” 2:21
7.”Store Bought Bones” 2:25
8.”Yellow Sun” 3:20
9.”Call It a Day” 3:36
10.”Blue Veins” 3:54

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