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The Raconteurs

Deputy editor Steve Kandell delivers our first impressions of Consolers of the Lonely, out today (for people who buy music, at least).

What’s the Deal? Jack White’s evil scheme failed, the one where he’d sneak the second Raconteurs album into stores today, under the cover of darkness, bypassing the customary press advance copies, so that all fans could hear the music for the first time at the same time, pure and untainted by critical white noise. But the album leaked Friday. On freakin’ iTunes.

Like In Rainbows before it, then, this album’s content is almost incidental — at first blush, anyway — to its means of delivery. And that’s sort of a shame given that Consolers is a huge leap beyond 2006’s Broken Boy Soldiers.

White and co-frontman Brendan Benson are more integrated this time out, trading vocals amid a dense squall of guitars and proggy keyboards. With its slide guitar and venomous Jack White sneer, “Top Yourself” is the most blatantly Stripes-y track (“How you gonna get that deep/ When your daddy ain’t around to do it to you”), while the brassy, Benson-led “Many Shades of Black” is effortlessly soulful — the Raconteurs may be based in Nashville, but they come from Motown. And “Five on the Five” rocks harder — if more conventionally — and is more rollicking fun than nearly anything in White’s increasingly varied repertoire.

Of course, the knock is that while the Stripes’ self-imposed minimalism breeds ingenuity, the Raconteurs just sound like, you know, a rock band. But the fuller production here, combined with Meg’s recent disappearing act, hints that the Raconteurs could be far more than the Firm to the White Stripes’ Zeppelin.

Who? The Raconteurs are Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler.

Now Watch This: The Raconteurs video for “Salute Your Solution”

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