Over a decade after the group’s last release, White and co. deliver a soupçon of what’s to come in 2019, and it sounds face-slappingly divine.
Picture the scene. It´s 2005, Nashville, Tennessee, and one half of The White Stripes, Jack White, is talking with his friend Brendan Benson about jamming together. They throw a quick track together, titled Steady, As She Goes, and within months the duo become a quartet with the addition of Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence. Their album Broken Boy Soldiers and the single itself are both nominated for a Grammy, and the world seriously starts taking notice of the young guitarist born in Tennessee who´s reinventing good ol´ rhythm and blues for the modern age.
In 2008 the band released Consolers of the Lonely, an album that through a wave of mixed reactions still managed to snag a Grammy and reached 7th and 8th on the US and UK album charts respectively, despite the band providing no promotion for the album; only confirming its existence a mere week before its release. The world was eagerly licking its lips in anticipation for what surely would be the globe-stomping perfected 3rd edition of White and Benson´s brainchild.
But the world was left disappointed. The curtain drew on the Raconteurs almost as swiftly as it had raised. The members went their separate ways, continued their solo projects, and soon the world began to move on. Jack White continued to make headlines, writing, producing and co-performing the critically acclaimed James Bond Soundtrack, Another Way to Die with Alicia Keys, before calling time on The White Stripes and focussing on his solo career.
Jump forward to 2018 and the Raconteurs decide that the world has waited long enough for the glorious finale to their musical trifecta, and release two singles as a taste of what’s to come in 2019. And my god was it worth waiting for.
The two tracks, Sunday Driver and Now That You´re Gone, hit like a musical punch to the gut, with face-meltingly glorious electric guitar, coupled with lip-smacking basslines and toe-tapping drumbeats, the passion and genuine love of music drips off of both of these tracks, with fans lapping it up anxiously awaiting the full album.
Sunday Driver is the faster, harder-hitting of the two tracks, with an intro that echoes The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”, and a combination of hard-hitting drums with electric power chords that reek of American grunge. The Who´s influence can be heard throughout the track, with a hint of early Kings of Leon, fellow Nashville alumni. It takes very little imagination to see this track stomping its way into underground punk clubs, to the extent that you can almost hear bottles shattering during some of the scintillating guitar riffs. The highlight of this track is the genuine pleasure that can be heard during the performance, displaying the unique passion for music evident in each member.
Now That You´re Gone on the other hand has a more withdrawn sound, reminiscent of some of White´s solo material, with a hint of Led Zeppelin in some of the guitar riffs that sneak through the gloriously thumping bassline/drum combination. It’s no secret that I believe that a lot of bass-lines go criminally unnoticed in modern music, and I love that the Raconteurs have decided to highlight the building blocks of this power-slapping anthem. The rhythmic, slow-moving, but never stationary, nature of the track stumbles onward relentlessly but keeps the listener engrossed in its beauty to the very last riff. White´s delicious vocals lament over a lost love, with the rest of the band providing harmonies, guiding the audience through the track as if narrating a story, and the chaotic cacophony of sounds that was so reminiscent of early Raconteurs has disappeared to a careful creation of stripped sounds and sleek silences between beats.
Jack White´s notoriously overdriven in-your-face grunge electric guitar riffs smack throughout both tracks in different ways and leave the listener feeling overwhelmed and empowered, and both tracks scream of friends re-discovering their roots in a glorious way.
As I mentioned earlier this is just a taste of what’s to come on the full album next year, but if it is anything like these two power ballads, then surely this album will cement the Raconteurs position in the pantheon of Rock and Roll legends.