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The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers

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Artist: The Raconteurs

Album: Broken Boy Soldiers

Label: V2

Review date: Jul. 9, 2006

Contrary to popular belief, not all of us at Dusted are out staring in the navel of non-popular music. Stewart Voegtlin, for example, likes to take a break from the grimmest of black metal with the sounds of the latest Kidz Bop release. Sam Hunt? Huge KISS fan. Josie Clowney sings Whitney Houston songs exclusively at Dusted’s staff-only karaoke night. Emerson Dameron wears a Rise Against t-shirt in public. The list goes on and on. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, and will tell all of my love for all walks of popular music, including that of the White Stripes.

Point is, we don’t hate things popular (or at the very least, well-publicized) here; it’s just that so many other outlets have cause to cover these things in a timely manner that we’d just as soon let them do it, and cover the other 99.9% of music that the others ignore. And with that, here’s a complete about-face: Broken Boy Soldiers, the debut album by supergroup The Raconteurs, featuring Brendan Benson up front, Jack White on guitar, and the Greenhornes’ Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, last heard as footstools for Holly Golightly, as the rhythm section.

I was really hoping that some critical insight the bigger publications had missed would shine through here, and on this front I am let down, albeit pleasantly: all this record strives to be is a power-pop record, of second-string Lennon/McCartney-crossed-with-Americana type that proliferated in the ‘70s and has carried on, doggedly, through the decades. Any group, from Big Star to Blue Ash, from Andy Bown to Zumpano, from Jellyfish to School of Fish, could have (and indeed, have) spun these wheels. Last any of us checked, the power-pop revival never went away, but never really generated any sparks either. But it’s noble that guys in a position to get noticed would endeavor to such a niche.

And do they ever. It’s important to note that everyone involved is on the same page, aspiring to a specific chapter in rock history (September, 1973, it would seem), closing in on an ebullient, yet sardonic take on really, really together pop. Benson’s keyboards hold this thing together more often than not, adding Rundgrenian splashes to sparkling ballads like “Intimate Secretary” and the bouncy “Yellow Sun.” These guys can sing their asses off, as evidenced on the sugar-sweet charmer “Call It a Day” and the driving, insistent gallop of the title track (voiced by White within the frame of one Geddy Lee). Not one stinker in the bunch here, and several of these will have stuck with me as summer turns into fall (like the aforementioned “Intimate Secretary,” meriting a good four or five listens on the first go-round). In true form, the album doesn’t even exceed 35 minutes, a gone-before-you-know-it charm that may lead these Soldiers off the field a little more quickly than you’d like.

By Doug Mosurock

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