Jack White

Lazaretto

Written by: BV on 23/06/2014 00:23:33

There was something distinctly enthralling about The White Stripes when they first hit the central consciousness of the mainstream audience. It was lo-fi, aggressive and strangely proficient sounding music in a hopelessly ‘limiting’ format seeing as the band consisted only of two people. The White Stripes sang about a “Little Room” when their album “White Blood Cells” came out – in a way, I guess that could be transferred to their music; they had a little room but they sure as hell kept finding new corners. ‘Free’ of this restrictive format, Jack White armed himself with bigger ensembles; notably his own solo-band where he surrounds himself with largely proficient musicians that make it far more tempting to be overly self-indulgent. “Lazaretto”, as well as White’s previous solo effort “Blunderbuss” are both shining examples of this. Long gone are the fuzzed up riffs and the banal, primal drumming; instead replaced by fuller soundscapes that provide White with far more easy opportunities for sonic playfulness than might be good for him.

It’s already clearly audible on opening track “Three Women” which beefs up the soundscape with piano, lap steel guitars, organ and other instruments of playfulness that are nice to have around but at the same time seem confusing for the expression altogether. With the title-track “Lazaretto” White indulges himself in a funk-reminiscent beat riddled with fuzzy guitar-parts – topped off with White practically rapping the lyrics. Ironically, “Lazaretto” is one of the early highpoints of the albums and proves that his newfound love of over-indulgence and tightly-packed soundscapes can indeed work, in spite of its seemingly hilarious strangeness at first listen.

“Would You Fight for My Love?” starts off with a persistent background humming and gently progresses into a low-key sort of power-ballad mood where White’s strained voice rings with a desperation quite befitting of the music. The apparent simplicity of the soundscape on this track is perfectly fitting for the mood, albeit there is an obvious lack of aggression for the most part of the track until it climaxes around the 2-minute mark when White’s fuzz guitar enters; followed by a full backing-band that consequently adds a certain weight to the sound.

Throughout the 11 tracks of “Lazaretto”, White reaches around the full spectrum of his musical ideas in a veritable hit and miss format. Sometimes the overindulged approach pays off whilst other tracks (like “I Think I Found the Culprit” and “Want and Able”) make me yearn for simpler, more aggressive sounds from the man who brought lo-fi garage-rock back into the mainstream populace. It seems a lot to ask, but sometimes there is truth to the simple phrase ‘less is more’ – as is the case with “Lazaretto” in my opinion. The album deservedly got tons of hype because of White’s toying with the vinyl format but without that hype I highly doubt that the album would have received the same praise as it does these days. It’s a downright solid effort, I’ll attest to that. But these days I’m sadly expecting a bit more than ‘solid’ from the likes of Jack White.

Download: Lazaretto, High Ball Stepper, Would You Fight for My Love?
For the fans of: The Dead Weather, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs
Listen: Facebook

Release date 11.06.2014
Third Man Records / XL Recordings


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