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Broken Boy Soldiers
     

Broken Boy Soldiers

4.4 13
by The Raconteurs
 

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At first blush, the Raconteurs would seem to be little more than a vehicle for White Stripes majordomo Jack White to let off some steam and sweeten up his musical brew with a few dollops of pop confectionary. But one listen to this short, sharp debut makes it clear that this effort is more than just a busman's holiday. The band -- which

Overview

At first blush, the Raconteurs would seem to be little more than a vehicle for White Stripes majordomo Jack White to let off some steam and sweeten up his musical brew with a few dollops of pop confectionary. But one listen to this short, sharp debut makes it clear that this effort is more than just a busman's holiday. The band -- which teams White and longtime colleague Brendan Benson with a rhythm section culled from Cincinnati's garage-soul kingpins the Greenhornes -- is most assuredly a collaborative effort, with White and Benson sharing harmonies on virtually every song. Their voices meld remarkably well, as borne out by the round-like trade-offs on the chantey-like "Steady, as She Goes," but that's only half the fun. It's even more intriguing to pick apart the cleverly obsessive pop culture borrowing that populates songs like "Intimate Secretary," which nicks a bit from Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love" and a vocal approach from vintage Badfinger. White and Benson are both smart enough -- and talented enough -- to incorporate such fillips subtly enough that it takes a listen or two to notice the familiarity. They're also hell-bent on proving that they can venture outside their respective comfort zones, eschewing garage and bubble-pop references in favor of metal-flake guitar riffage ("Store Bought Bones") and mess-with-your-head effects ("Blue Veins"). Heck, White was even inspired enough to take a crack -- on the wailing title track -- at a protest song that introduces Phil Ochs to Jimmy Page. As off-kilter as it sounds, that proves to be a fruitful meeting, one of many that make this one of the season's most entertaining listens.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It's hard to call the Raconteurs a genuine supergroup since there's only one true rock star in the quartet: the White Stripes' eccentric mastermind Jack White. Sometime between the recording of the Stripes' 2003 breakthrough Elephant and its willfully difficult 2005 follow-up, Get Behind Me Satan, White teamed up with fellow Detroit singer/songwriter Brendan Benson to write some tunes, eventually drafting the rhythm section of Cincinnati garage rockers the Greenhornes as support. Lasting just ten tracks, their debut, Broken Boy Soldiers, doesn't feel hasty, but it doesn't exactly feel carefully considered, either. It sounds exactly as what it is: a busman's holiday for two prodigiously gifted pop songwriters where they get to indulge in temptations that their regular gig doesn't afford. For Benson, he gets to rock harder than he does on his meticulously crafted solo albums; for White, he gets to shed the self-imposed restrictions of the White Stripes and delve into the psychedelic art pop he's hinted at on Elephant and Satan. Both Benson and White are indebted to '60s guitar pop, particularly the pop experiments of the mid-'60s -- in its deliberately dark blues-rock, Elephant resembled a modern-day variation of the Stones' Aftermath, while Benson has drawn deeply from Rubber Soul and Revolver, not to mention the Kinks or any number of other '60s pop acts -- so they make good, even natural, collaborators, with Brendan's classicist tendencies nicely balancing Jack's gleeful freak-outs. Appropriately, Broken Boy Soldiers does sound like the work of a band, with traded lead vocals and layers of harmonies, and no deliberate emphasis on one singer over the other. Even if there's a seemingly conscious effort to give Brendan Benson and Jack White equal space on this brief album, White can't help but overshadow his partner: as good as Benson is, White's a far more dynamic, innovative, and compelling presence -- there's a reason why he's a star. But he does willingly embrace the teamwork of a band here, dressing up Benson's songs with weird flourishes, and playing some great guitar along the way. If the Raconteurs don't rock nearly as hard as the White Stripes -- there's a reckless freedom in Jack's careening performances when he's supported only by Meg White -- they do have some subtle sonic textures that the Stripes lack, and a tougher backbone than Benson's albums, which makes them their own distinctive entity. And they're a band that has their own identity -- it may be somewhat stuck in the '60s, but they're not monochromatic, showcasing instead a variety of sounds, ranging from sparely ominous single "Steady, as She Goes" and the propulsive pop of "Hands" to the churning Eastern psychedelia of "Intimate Secretary" and the grandiose menace of the title track to the slow blues burn of "Blue Veins." These songs, and the five other cuts on this album, prove that the Raconteurs are nothing less than a first-rate power pop band -- but they're nothing more, either. They may not rewrite the rules of pop on Broken Boy Soldiers, but they don't try to: they simply lie back and deliver ten good, colorful pop songs, so classic in style and concise in form that the album itself is barely over in 30 minutes. It's brief and even a little slight, but it's almost as much fun to listen to as it must have been to make.
Los Angeles Times - Ann Powers
The songs zing with the excitement of two music nerds caught up in a game of "Top This!" — they shift from neo-psychedelia to three-chord raunch to progressive blues on the turn of a reference point.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/01/2008
Label:
Warner Bros / Wea
UPC:
0093624984276
catalogNumber:
512141
Rank:
9220

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Broken Boy Soldiers 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Go out and buy this album. Enjoy it then go and see them live. The energy and skill that you will see is great. Bang Bang [my baby shot me down] is an excellent cover. If you buy this album you will enjoy it, if you see them live you will love it. However much Jack White is holding back on the album he doesn't live. I saw them oped for Bob Dylan and was very impressed considering they were playing to a crowd that was largely there to see bob dylan they ripped through all their album tracks as well as two others with energy and skill. Favorite album tracks- Blue Veins, Call it a day and Level -Favorite live tracks- Blue Veins, Yellow Sun and Bang Bang.
Heavy_Metal_Sushi More than 1 year ago
I had not formerly heard much by the Racconteurs before, but after having heard this album, I was fairly impressed. I found it at the library I work at here in Boise and checked it out & gave it a listen. I think this is an album I would honestly consider picking up at some point. My favorite song on it without a shadow of a doubt Steady As She Goes...awesome song. The whole album is pretty much awesome though. If you like good alternative rock type stuff, or if you're a fan of artists like The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, and other groups like that, definitely check these guys out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
but I now find myself playing this a couple of times a day. Based off the other reviews here i hope they come to boise soon
Guest More than 1 year ago
Good sound and rhythm but some of the songs seem rushed but the album as a whole is very good. Check out the title track along with Level, Blue Veins and Steady as she Goes
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is flat out amazing. Jack White is a full blown genious. The keyboards in "Intimate Secretary" are awesome. There's not a single song that is remotely bad on this CD. I hope this group releases many more albums
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I really like the Artic Monkeys, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand - alternative fun and pretty intelligent stuff. This band is great to crank with the top down but it sounds like Rush - not most people's idea of original thought. Still worth having though - music to pick up guys with!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like The White Stripes, then you'll like this new group that Jack has drifted to. They're songs may not be as masterfully simplistic as the Stripes, or as hard rocking, but it still delivers that punch.