The Raconteurs - Help Us Stranger (2019)
Star Rating: 5/5
The Raconteurs have published yet another album, and it's fresh. Is rock and roll dead? Not while Jack White can still buy an Eastwood Guitars Airline and wail. He and his co-frontman Brendan Benson haven't written and released an album in 11 years since Consolers of the Lonely, but this record reminds us why they starting rocking in the first place.
As with most of the Raconteurs music, there are a few great songs and then a slew of others that meander off into experimental veins. The leads are worth it, though, and offer more texture and depth than previous releases. And they haven't lowered the volume one bit!
Top Tracks & Takeaways
The top two tracks of the album are also the first two singles released, and, as of the writing of this article, the only two songs with videos.
"Sunday Driver" is by and large the coolest song on the record. It carries the same weight as "Salute Your Solution" from Consolers of the Lonely, yet is more to the point. It has a riff and beat that will drive you around in circles until you beg for more. Jack's solos and lead lines play perfectly for this energetic hit.
"Now That You're Gone" is a melancholy number with a stop time, stepping, chord pattern that invokes the pain of a lost love; an opportunity missed. "And who's gonna love you now that I'm not there?" Brendan questions cooly as Jack White spikes with his high gain filler riffs. The chorus and turnaround are emotional and well done. It's a pop song at heart, and does a good job of supporting "Sunday Driver" like a wingman.
"Bored and Razed" is the other hit track on the record. It opens the album and only dulls the ear when the chorus comes along. The melody there is just not up to the level that the other two top songs maintained. There is a sing-song guitar line that follows the tradition of "Sunday Driver" with a circular melody and heavy, well-placed drums. The dazed apathy portrayed in the songs is exemplified by the line: "Staying away from the left and the right!" This album does a good job of aiming right down the center for a strike.
What we liked
The style and mature tone of this album is refreshing. Since the band hasn't put out any records in over a decade, we're glad to see that they still have it.
Not so much...
A few of the songs are just noise. Brendan has a lot of experience with writing and they lend their efforts too easily to experimental whims that tend not to land. Another hot track that might be overlooked is "Don't Bother Me". Jack clearly includes lines about how he disregards Millenials with cell phones. He has been known to force audience members to put their phones in pouches during his concerts.
Videos and Singles
Now That You're Gone
Overall this album is a home run. Rock and Roll needs more innovative veterans who know how it's done to release new material. They look like they're having a lot of fun doing it, too, which is what really matters. Five stars out of five for a real thrill!
Bored and Razed
Help Me Stranger
Don't Bother Me
Shine the Light On Me
Somedays (I Don't Feel Like Trying)
Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)
Now That You're Gone
Live a Lie
What's Yours Is Mine
Thoughts and Prayers