In the past ten years, Jack White has not always had the most carefree vibe, with a surly public persona, a few decent if indulgent solo albums and a certain aloofness as modern rock music sped away down a pop-influenced freeway. Thank God for the Raconteurs, then. Once The White Stripes started to break down, The Raconteurs was at once White’s most accessible, enjoyable and accomplished side gig. Away for over ten years on other business, two singles earlier this year marked a welcome return. ‘Sunday Driver’ was a classic bottle rocket of riffs and squeals, ‘Now That You’re Gone’ in turn shows off Brendan Benson’s brilliant ear for a simplistic tune.
Opener ‘Bored and Razed’ is a glam-metal rollercoaster, near-title track ‘Help Me, Stranger’ an earworm boogie and ‘Only Child’ has Benson winding White into a Beatles-esque melody. The three lesser known of the Raconteurs do better than anyone since Meg White in managing Jack’s impulses. On his best record in a decade, he needs them far more than he’d admit. With their 60s vocal references and Led Zep guitar worship, they’re not back to reinvent the wheel - but they do remind us that old school rock and roll is at its best when it doesn’t try and take itself dead serious.