The Raconteurs - Help Us Stranger
At first glance, The Raconteurs are nothing more than one of Jack White’s many side projects, the ever-prolific musician just finding another outlet to experiment with. This one, however, always felt like it had a little more longevity than the rest.
The Raconteurs, much like The White Stripes, are Jack White at his best. Let loose on his own, he gets experimental and we end up with albums like 2018’s Boarding House Reach, which comes out like unedited thought processes that somehow found their way onto a published record. Tamed by the likes of Brendan Benson, we get a beautiful blues-pop balance. White’s extravagant guitar riffs and Benson’s melodic pop sensibility are a match made in heaven.
Energetic from the off, the album is full of White’s signature blues-rock guitar with a thumping drum beat throughout. Benson works in tangent with White, bouncing off each other’s vocals and even providing Beatle-esqe harmonies on lead single ‘Help Me Stranger’.
Lyrically, the album is nothing special, taking easy hits at technology (You’re your biggest admirer / all your clicking and swiping) and apathy (Thoughts and Prayers). But really, when they’re set to effect pedal coated guitar riffs, whirling strings and rocking piano - who cares?
The constant change in pace makes for an interesting listen right up till the very end. Highlights include their cover of Donovan’s ‘Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)’, and the doo-wop style melodies in ‘Shine a Light On Me’.
Although White is unapologetically experimental in his work, he still has a ‘sound’ that is distinctly his own. That effect-laden blues-rock, yet somehow stripped back, guitar style that he introduced with the White Stripes is still present in his work today. It’s clear to see where Benson’s influence comes in, reining in White’s more eccentric tendencies and adding the foot-tapping rythmns that pull the album together.
White and Benson are a force to be reckoned with when they pair up. Easily enjoyable from the first listen, this album only gets better each time. They certainly don’t need help from any strangers this time round.