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Published on July 24th, 2019 | by voxx

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The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger

The Jack White supergroup stare down modernity on their belated third album…

Emerging from whichever Avengers-style Quantum Realm they’ve been holed up in since 2008, The Raconteurs greet 11 years of musical development with a shrug and pick up precisely where they left off, which itself was somewhere circa 1973.

Even more than its two predecessors, Help Us Stranger is Jack White and Brendan Benson’s love letter to classic rock. The ghosts of the past make their presence felt across its 12 tracks: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Donovan (via a raucous cover of the ‘60s folk star’s harmonica-blasted blues number ‘Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)’), and even cowboy-hatted country rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd on the weeping, last-orders-at-the-bar ‘Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)’.

The pair’s roles haven’t changed much in the interim years, either. Benson is the rock-solid artisan crafting timeless melodies out of nowhere; White is the wild-eyed disrupter, rolling his eyes and howling at the moon. It’s the latter’s hard-wired idiosyncrasy that saves it all from period-piece claustrophobia – ‘Don’t Bother Me’ and the quasi-psychedelic ‘Sunday Driver’ buzz with a wasp-in-a-jam-jar nerviness that places them squarely in 2019. In anyone else’s hands, this campaign-for-real-rock obstinacy would have Help Us Stranger filed away in a drawer marked “Potential Deep Purple Support Band”.

But there’s a sense of defiant obstinacy and outright mischief that sets The Raconteurs outside music’s regular continuum. Whatever’s in the water in that Quantum Realm they’ve been hiding in, it’s working.

- By Jake White


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