The Raconteurs Broken Boy Soldiers

[V2/Third Man; 2006]

Styles:  pop-rock
Others: The White Stripes, The Greenhornes, Wolfmother, The Shins

A supergroup, "a new band made up of old friends," whatever ”” no matter how you slice it, The Raconteurs are, unfortunately, a truly uninspired cast. With Jack White and Brendan Benson rubbing up with a couple members of The Greenhornes, a pretext for both songwriters to try something special emerges. Too bad the songs play as discarded refuse, staggering from pristine pop sensibilities to faux-dirty garage riffaging. About the only thing The Raconteurs ensure is that blind devotion, psychology, and well-timed marketing have a hell of a lot to do with each other. Sure, the production constructs The Raconteurs as "exciting" and "energetic," but if one more person says The Raconteurs bring the "rock" back in rock 'n' roll, I swear I'll upchuck.

Broken Boy Soldiers begins with the single, "Steady As She Goes." Can you believe the 7-inch release for this formulaic exercise in blandness was actually selling on eBay for $60? I guess I can. If insipid and mediocre get you wet, maybe you won't be embarrassed to pump tracks like "Together" and "Hands" with your windows down. And do lyrics not matter anymore? "I've got a rabbit, it likes to hop/ I've got a girl and she likes to shop/ The other foot looks like it won't drop/ I had an uncle and he got shot" (from "Intimate Secretary"). Even if the song had arresting instrumentation (it doesn't, by the way), the lyrics are disposable, interchangeable, and essentially filler syllables for half-hearted melodies.

The only musical moment that actually goes out on a limb is on "Blue Veins." Toward the end of the track, the clichéd death-lounge-blues delivery stops for a rather intriguing interlude that plays part of the song in reverse. Predictably, though, the moment quickly reverts back to safe shores, and the experiment is consequently subsumed. And it's not surprising that this track is relegated to the end of the album, sending a strong signal to listeners that this is a deviation, a fleeting toe-dip into something outside the norm for pure shits and giggles. It's a statement that doesn't declare so much as nudge and look around for approval, and I'm supposedly the asshole for pointing this out.

If The Raconteurs were any other group (that is, if The Raconteurs didn't have Jack White), the press/Blogosphere would slam it. And maybe they still will. Who cares, because either way, the supposed "genius" of Mr. White is enough for fans to buy and buy into all that is The Raconteurs. It's going to happen anyway, and I'm not here to make purchasing decisions for you. Besides, Broken Boy Solidiers is the kind of album that has such an all-encompassing din that the album essentially implicates attention. That's why I'm reviewing it, and that's why you're reading this. Until something drastic happens, this is unfortunately how taste in pop music will be negotiated.

1. Steady, As She Goes
2. Hands
3. Broken Boy Soldier
4. Intimate Secretary
5. Together
6. Level
7. Store Bought Bones
8. Yellow Sun
9. Call It A Day
10. Blue Veins
1. Steady, As She Goes
2. Hands
3. Broken Boy Soldier
4. Intimate Secretary
5. Together
6. Level
7. Store Bought Bones
8. Yellow Sun
9. Call It A Day
10. Blue Veins

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