Broken Boy Soldiers
When initial reports seeped out that Jack White and Brendan Benson were recording an album together, there followed some considerable buzz, the pair themselves even declaring it "Detroit's answer to Nevermind." Now, let's hope that this was something of a tongue-in-cheek statement, because Broken Boy Soldiers does not match Nevermind on impact or tunes. That said, it is a stellar record, full of brilliant moments.
Opener, and lead off single "Steady As She Goes" sets the tone for the rest of the record, as catchy as it is repetitive, and representative of the more upbeat pop of Benson than the dirty blues-rock of White. That said, the album does have a relatively diverse palette, with the atmospheric glam of "Broken Boy Soldier" colliding with summery strum of "Yellow Sun". Elsewhere, "Call It A Day" is a moody rocker, vaguely menacing with its big chords and bleak lyrics ("I swear by this knife/ It's all by your design") offset by creamy 70s style harmonies.
"Level" is a fine example of the collaborative power of the duo, a White Stripes style rocker with jaunty keyboards and ace duelling guitars, it is a highlight of the record. That's not to say that it's all down to Benson and White, kudos must be given to bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keller who make a damn fine rhythm section, particularly on the more complex pieces like "Blue Veins". This track sees White in full on John Lennon circa 1968 mode, with a bluesy guitar and piano augmented by backwards guitars and vocals. (Can't wait for the "Brendon Is Dead" conspiracies.)
Overall, Broken Boy Soldiers is a good record, with only the staid "Together" preventing it from being truly great one. But, on the evidence of the other tracks, The Raconteurs could well become even better than White and Benson's respective day jobs.