The Dead Weather – Horehound (Columbia) 13/07/2009

July 7, 2009 by  

horehound

He’s back. Jack White that is. This time as part of demi-supergroup The Dead Weather. I use the term demi, because apart from Jack White and Dean Fertita, the rest of the band have only played venues slightly larger than your local boozer’s backroom. The band’s other main attraction Alison Mosshart, other part of The Kills, probably couldn’t believe her luck when she got the call to join White and his fellow Raconteurs. Judging by the album’s artwork the guitarist seems content to be taking a back-seat on the project. With Mosshart being thrust to the forefront you get the feeling it’s two steps forward for the Kills lady and one step back for White.

Despite his success, Jack White has always divided opinion with his distinctive sound and unique approach to song writing, with accusers often remarking that he often opts for style over substance. On Horehound, he once again seems unoccupied by musical intricacies and focuses on finding yet more signature sounds. A compromise I believe adds to his stature, but one which others despise. It’s this division which will unavoidably shape your response to the album.

Although White has announced himslef as just the drummer it’s clear that his input is far greater.The album reeks of his style and it colours and dictates the tone of the album. Although played by Fertita the guitar work is as simplistic yet effective as usual, but this time it’s laced with dark contorted tones. Opener ‘60 Feet Tall’ , lays the precedent for the album. A dark unassuming tune, quickly gives way to a chaotic rush of distortion before settling back into it’s dark groove. Mosshart’s vocals, although at times drowned out, suit the macabre twisted blues perfectly. However, the album comes into it’s own when the duo seemingly confront each other, exuding a fierce tension onto the record, no more so than on ‘Treat Me Like Your Mother’.

Unfortunatley, some of the record does give way to a desire to create sounds rather than songs. For example, the dysfunctional funk of ‘Cut Me Like A Buffalo’ quickly falls into a repetitive dirge, and ‘Rocking Horse’ uses so many distorted elements it’s hard to extract the song that lies underneath.

Horehound, Is clearly Jack White’s album, just with another different ensemble of supporting musicians. Whether or not The Dead Weather will produce another album is unclear, but you can be sure White will continue to make challenging and original records, whereas Mosshart will probably be back doing the day job by Christmas.

[rating:3.5]

By Chris Cummins


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