Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Album review: JACK WHITE - Lazaretto

Highlights: Would You Fight For My Love?, I Think I Found The Culprit


I guess we all know by now that Jack White is a very poor songwriter. He may do a ballad or he may do a full-fledged rocker, his melodies will always sound plodding and one-dimensional. And still you almost have to admire him for that, because it takes guts and extreme self-confidence – to do so much with so little.

And there’s so much going on here. The guest list of Lazaretto includes about three million people (and that is considering White’s multi-instrumentalism), and they all have something to contribute. Arranging, editing, playing, singing. The album has several designers, for Christ’s sake.

Let’s get it straight: all of these songs are sonically impressive and none of them are remotely bad. That said, “That Black Bat Licorice” is so derivative of White’s pseudo-melodicism that it actually becomes obnoxious. I’m all for the fiddle, I just don’t think it makes the song any better. “Entitlement” is just your average but expertly done country song. “High Ball Stepper” is a decent hard-rock instrumental full of colourful noise and technical brilliance and… that’s about it. The man is just lacking so much in the songwriting department. I do give in two or three times, though, and “I Think I Found The Culprit”, with its pounding piano notes and its wailing violin and its astonishing slide guitar, is just too overwhelming to put down. Plus, a well-written tune always helps. 

Behind all the technical prowess and Jack White’s unmistakable (and, frankly, grating) style, there’s just no depth to Lazaretto. For the love of God – I don’t see why I should care for something as generic and obvious as “Just One Drink”. The presentation may be fantastic, but his songwriting lacks any identity to be taken seriously. Jack is 0.1% inspiration and 99.9% perspiration. 

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