Review: The Raconteurs' Consolers of the Lonely

CD of the week: The Raconteurs' Consolers of the Lonely

The Raconteurs Consolers of the Lonely (XL) £10.99

Not since punk, when amphetamine sulphate set the tempo, has music been so consumed by speed. Finished only a fortnight ago, the Raconteurs' second album was sprung on the world Tuesday last. Reviewers have not heard it early; the vinyl (so beloved by the band) will not limp out until a month after the download.

Although the Raconteurs are four - co-frontman Brendan Benson, drummer Patrick Keeler, bassist Jack Lawrence and co-frontman Jack White -the hand of Jack White is evident here. White's aim is to give independent record shops a leg-up against iTunes and get the industry marching to his beat. It has worked: Consolers of the Lonely is one of the most exciting musical events of 2008.

It's lively, too. Broken Boy Soldiers, the band's debut, tempered White's vigour with Brendan Benson's sweetness and light. Consolers of the Lonely by contrast, feels more like White's baby. Benson's showcase, 'Many Shades of Black' stands out a mile, with its old-time, brassy soul. Either side of it are half-a-dozen White hobbyhorses, whipped into exultant Lipizzaner formations by a plush recording studio and a healthy budget - two indulgences White has traditionally scorned. There is a lot of showing off on this record, much of it justified. White is a quicksilver musician; Benson is no slouch, and Consolers... finds them luxuriating in fancy stuff with kid-in-a-sweetshop enthusiasm. Minimalism is out, bombast is in; the detail, is, as ever, lip-smacking.

The band change tempos and genres readily, often in the space of one song. 'The Switch and the Spur' swaps hallucinatory spaghetti western prog for double-time mariachi waltzing; thankfully, Benson is on hand to hold the reins with a melody. It all works, thanks to the Raconteurs' virtuosity and focus. And at the end is a great reward: 'Carolina Drama', a country blues tour de force in which White tells the tale of a two boys, a red-headed mother, a violent stepfather, a priest, an envelope of cash and a milk bottle. It rips by in the fastest six minutes ever timed, but it could go on forever.

KItty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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