Broken Boy SoldiersBy Lynne Margolis
After defying the two-guitars-drums-and-bass rock ‘n’ roll model with the White Stripes, Jack White chose the standard route for the Raconteurs, his side project with pal Brendan Benson and the Greenhornes’ rhythm section. But there’s nothing standard about their album, Broken Boy Soldiers. The disc is full of heavy rock and blues – and enough hooks to make you crave way more than the 10 songs it contains. It opens with a full-tilt charmer, “Steady, As She Goes,” full of deep bass grooves and chunky chords – and enough resemblances to Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him” that he might want to consider collecting royalties.
On the title tune and “Blue Veins,” White does a better Robert Plant than the Led Zep frontman, but this is hardly about borrowed riffs and retro rock homages (though they do claim in a sleeve rhyme that the Raconteurs are “four lousy thieves”). It is about having fun while producing relentless melodies with meaty guitar jams, weighty rhythms and White’s and Benson’s well-matched voices. Though the Raconteurs are being called a supergroup, it’s doubtful many people had heard of drummer Patrick Keeler or bassist Jack Lawrence previously (unless they’re familiar with the Jack White-produced Loretta Lynn album, Van Lear Rose, on which they appeared).
Still, it’s quite a summit meeting, with equal contributions from a band that could have far more than one great album up its sleeve. Heck, White could decide to give up his Target-ad look (and White Stripes partner) for good and just concentrate on this collective, and it’s doubtful we’d even miss that other incarnation.