Album Review: Jack White – Boarding House Reach

jack whiteJack White – Boarding House Reach

Alternative

45%

Though he’s developed quite a reputation as an eccentric musical mad scientist, the truth of the matter is that beneath all the cryptic lyrics and tortured guitars, Jack White’s songs have been firmly rooted in garage rock, country, and most of all the blues. Jack has always been a blues man at heart, and all the quirky flourishes have merely been a disguise. That is, up until Boarding House Reach, where he casts off that anchor and lets the madness take over. Instead of throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks, he has forgone the wall entirely. There are a few moments where his ideas find new roots to ground them, such as the soulful organ of ‘Why Walk A Dog?’ and the stripped back piano led waltz of ‘Humoresque’, but for the most part it is just one wild flurry after another.

Electronics take a key role in this album for the first time in his career, and incidentally most of the album feels like some crazy computer glitch preceding a blue screen of death. ‘Corporation’ and ‘Hypermisophoniac’ are jams so disjointed you’d think they were written using sample pads and a random number generator. ‘Respect Commander’ sounds like something from Primus, and the hip hop inspired ‘Ice Station Zebra’ sounds strikingly reminiscent of the Fresh Prince theme in places. The lunatics have taken over the asylum and this album is the result. I like some pretty out there stuff, but even experiments need structure. Think of it as a book; you’d be fine reading a book full of wild and whimsical stories, but if the author suddenly started writing in some hand scribbled gibberish language of his own invention you’d put the book down and wonder if he’d lost the plot. Far too much nonsense for me, it’s just weird for weird’s sake.

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