Jack White is still weird, and I am very grateful for that. On his four singles from “Boarding House Reach,” White’s intense screaming rock ‘n’ roll is so less garage-rock and punk, and more r&b, hip-hop than his work with the White Stripes. However, he displays a propensity for a kind of frenetic-psychedelia that previously only manifested itself in the wild screeching guitar solos that mark his career.
The wicked synth-bass distorted guitar riff, and White’s vocal screech to kick-off the frantic “Over And Over And Over,” for example. Although, it is really the structure of the song, which creates a frantic back and forth effect, that makes the song so creative and interesting.
It is also a song that White has recorded several times before, initially writing it for The White Stripes, he also recorded it with The Racounters and for a project with Jay-Z.
“It’s sort of been my ‘white whale’,” White told Rolling Stone in an interview, joking, “I was just gonna hand it off to my grandchildren.”
With these songs, White is using the modern pop instruments, drum machines, synths, etc., but he structures them in a way that his style shift is not pandering to popular tastes.
“Connected By Love” is perhaps the best example, which begins with a thick oscillating synth, and builds to a kind of climax when a massive gospel choir backing vocal kicks in followed by an intense soul-saving organ solo. It is a really interesting combination considering the subject of the song is a connection through love – – where he merges these two electronic and analog styles in a way that makes them entirely complementary to one another.
“Corporation” begins like a fairly straightforward tune, except the vocals don’t kick in until the two-minute mark, which is when the track starts to get weird. For the majority of the track, the instrumentation lingers and repeats beneath White’s nearly psychotic vocal. All of which makes his business partnership inquiries seem desperate and delusional.
“I wanted to take punk, hip-hop, and rock & roll, and funnel it all into a 2018 time capsule,” White told Rolling Stone in reference to his upcoming album. Which thus far, he seems to have accomplished.
“Boarding House Reach” is out March 23 on White’s Third Man Records. White will begin touring the album in April, opening on the 19 in his hometown of Detroit.
It will be interesting to see what White does for the tour, after his 2014 Lazzaretto tour that featured alternating male and female bands performing improvised setlists.