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Broken Boy Soldiers by The Raconteurs

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Reviewed on 15th May 2006.


Broken Boy Soldiers

By The Raconteurs

'Steady, As She Goes' - y'know it, right? That driving romp through backwoods Americana, all gloomy shots of forest-covered mountains, wild horses and ranch-hands with stubble and cigarettes running about everywhere like convicts; that stupidly-infectious, slightly-ominous singalong with offbeat smacks of whiskey-bothered guitar to handclap with and weird little noises thrown hither and thither to swing your hips to? Sure you do. Mint, it is. But can The Raconteurs - a band with a massive profile and weight labelled "Must Impress" to match on their shoulders, led as they are by Jack 'White Stripes' White and Brendan 'Brendan Benson' Benson - deliver nine further tracks of similar smoky glory? Well, yes and no.

If you enjoy a wheeling range of variety in your albums, then yes. If you prefer bands who don't sound like a completely different band altogether every three seconds, then no. It's perhaps the fact that this LP was recorded at snatched intervals whenever each busy bee got the time off from other projects which has meant it's resulted in sounding like a chucked-together mixed bag of mish and mash; or, they're just a bit schizo. Either way, we've got spooky, reverberating, dark slices of Midwest gothicism rustling alongside positively chipper, lah-di-dah harmonies and jingly, jangly (very very English-y) jaunts; introspective puddles of mournful vocals aching with wisdom and melodicas nestling next to outright lyrical idiocy ("I've got a rabbit, it likes to hop; I've got a girl and she likes to shop...I've got a red Japanese teapot" - sorry, but what?)

However, for every duff half-effort there's a bristling rampage through the sunset on a black stallion, the sand blasting your face and a semi-demon on fire yowling lines like "I am a child and man and child again; the boy never gets older" ('Broken Boy Soldier') into your lugholes like a howling minion straight out of an ancient myth whilst electrics are tortured by primitive tribes in the background.

All in all, then, a bit of a dubious hash - but I suppose that just makes 'em a bit rougher n' ruffian. Purchase a stetson, get a bit pissed and it'll probably all be reet.



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