Have you heard the one about the White Stripe, two Greenhornes and an indie-pop peddler from Detroit? They walk into a bar, right, and.. err.. form The Raconteurs. Badum tish. Luckily, the fruits of the foursome's labour doesn't fall anywhere near as flat as that 'joke'. Broken Boy Soldiers has been touted by most as 'Jack White's side project', an assumption that's degrading to the other three members; but it's clear from the beginning that this is a team effort. Lead single Steady, As She Goes typifies The Raconteurs' sound befittingly; its quirky jerk of a riff attributable to the eccentricity of the White Stripes, its lo-fi retro-blues befitting of a Greenhornes track and its 60s garage pop sound indicative of a Benson classic. It would appear to be a straightforward formula, yet there's a majesty and magnetism about BBS that's not discernable on the first or even second listen. By the third time you hear psychedelic Love/Beatles eulogy Hands, or frenetic Led Zep/Black Sabbath wig-out Store Bought Blues, though, the true capacity of Benson/White's potency is all too clear. The duo share vocal duties throughout - White's mellower-than-usual, subtly quirky tone provides pitch-perfect harmonies for Benson's calming caramel lull (Together, Call It A Day) - and vice versa - and it makes for a natural and uncontrived partnership. Though Broken Boy Soldiers may be more austere than anything The White Stripes have committed to tape, there are still flashes of idiosyncrasy here and there ('I've got a rabbit and it likes to hop/I've got a girl and she likes to shop - fidgety gem Intimate Secretary'), and it would appear that Benson also enjoys indulging his inner rock beast, though the summery Beck-like bliss of Yellow Sun could have been lifted from his own album Lapalco. Some may be surprised by The Raconteurs' disposition to classic 70s rock - and indeed, it is a prevalent force here, particularly Led Zeppelin (Broken Boy Soldier) and Thin Lizzy (Blue Veins).It's perhaps debatable whether the sum of their parts has exceeded their disparate entities; but on this evidence, it would seemingly appear so. More, please.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 09:00 | Friday 19th May 2006 | Album Review