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Album Review: Jack White – Boarding House Reach

2 min read
photo: Big Hassle

There is no denying that Jack White has worked wonders for the physical music sales industry, thanks to his Third Man Records initiative but; ever increasingly, his growingly complex adventures in sound are becoming harder and harder for the casual listener to tolerate. The one time White Stripe frontman is no stranger to going a bit wild in the name of music, and this is a trend that; even at 14 albums into his career (including both solo & group work) Jack is still not afraid to think utterly outside of the box.

The pulsating hums as the album opens into Connected By Love go against the overall soothing energy that powers this track. White’s urgency to sing and create almost makes it seem as though he would he explode if for some reason he couldn’t get the chords out. No, Why Walk A Dog? isn’t an ode to laziness, instead there’s a great deal more depth here. If we take the animals mentioned in the lyrics and how they do not listen or pay attention, one can assume there is more than a little political fury behind this track.

I have yet to discover what someone by name of Hypermisophoniac is, but what I do know is that this tune is more than a bit of a mess. Jazz pianos overlap alien factory beep noises that make for an audio cacophony that’s really quite unpleasant on the senses. If you’re thinking about taking a lie down whilst listening to this record, during this would no doubt yield some unpleasant dreams.

Respect Commander is much more like the Jack White we think we might currently know enough about to make such an assumption. It’s opening is a spectacular build that wouldn’t sound out of place as a Bond theme. This track is exactly the type of jamming myriad that many now come to expect from White. It was good at the beginning, but after a while there’s only so much echo guitar posturing that one can take.

The album closes with subtle slinky jazz number Humoresque, which actually sounds more like a nursery rhyme than a track by a super serious rock n roller. After the intense experiences present throughout this record, a calming end is the welcome breathe of fresh air back to reality that we’re all in dire need of by now.

As mentioned before, there is clearly a great deal of skill on show throughout Boarding House Reach, but at a lot of the times too many layers and nuances to tracks are simply spoiling them. It’s a solid enough listen to keep the boredom at way, but there is a lot of filler overlapping the record’s finer moments.