Album Review: Jack White – Boarding House Reach

How do you even describe Jack White? The music prodigy has had such an influence over the music world it almost defies belief- first with The White Stripes, then with bands like The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, and finally his solo work. His eclectic, crazy style of songwriting has inspired a great many people, but not only that- it has changed the music world for the better. This album promises just to be as crazy and creative as ever, and as Jack White is set to headline some of the biggest festivals around the world over the summer, it will give him a brand new catalogue of music to choose from for his biggest shows yet. But how does the album sound?

Well you would have expected it to be varied- it’s a Jack White album after all- but not quite this varied. In it, White tries singing, rapping, and even some spoken word passages, over a wide range of tracks. Some sound like the sound we’ve come to expect from him, but there is something more here- a lot more electronic effects and modern sounds, and a lot more craziness. Over the first few songs, there’s a ballad, a song that’s almost an instrumental and a song that’s essentially just a spoken word passage set to music. This is the Jack White we’ve come to know and love, but somehow even crazier.

But does it work? Well- yes and no. Some songs sound great, some don’t, and some sound somewhere in the middle of the two. For example, the opener ‘Connected By Love’ is a ballad set to a Muse-esque synth beat, which is mostly fairly normal, but the break towards the end almost sounds like something out of a Tenacious D song. It’s honestly bizarre. There are some other odd musical choices on show here. For example, ‘Hypermisophoniac’ is fantastic, but is ruined for me by a repeating electronic beeping in the right ear. ‘Ice Station Zebra’ also sounds great, but I don’t think rapping is for Jack White- at least not in this capacity. There are some songs that are just great though- ‘Over and Over and Over’ is the best of this selection, and shows how good things are when this album gets it right. It is in the blues-rock style that White is known for, but with a little more- all the influences he has picked up over the years have bled into this.

And those influences bleed into the whole album, but the effects are varied. Mostly, the album sounds crazy and all over the place- but even more than usual. When the album’s great, it sounds truly amazing, but these moments of greatness are too few to make this album truly great on its own. Unfortunately, this makes the album a bit of a disorienting listen, and personally, I just can’t get into it. Maybe it is made for a higher calibre of listener than me- so I still recommend giving it a go- but this one isn’t for me.

Best songs: Over and Over and Over, Ice Station Zebra

Score: 5/10

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