**** (out of four)
Jack White may be a master of many genres, but two things we've come to expect from the White Stripe/Raconteur/Dead Weather member are serious rocking and some down-home blues. So it's less than surprising that "Blunderbuss" offers up a solid helping of both. More than solid—it's the kind of music that makes you crank up the volume and do that squinchy "rocking out" face. You know the one.
From the opening notes of "Missing Pieces," I was grinning from ear to ear. Jack's back, baby. There's plenty to adore here aside from the truly spectacular single "Sixteen Saltines," especially the thrash party that is "I'm Shakin'." Listen to "Freedom at 21" through headphones with the sound turned up to about 60 million (disclaimer: this may not be safe), and wait for the toe-curlingly awesome moment when the vocals are blasted into your right ear and the guitar in your left. Being alive is seriously fantastic.
As a White Stripes freak, I'm less crazy about this side of Jack's repertoire, but I'm constantly amazed by his ability to switch from hard rockin' Detroit snarl to sweetly rambling balladeer. "Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy" is a touch too sing-songy, but on an album this ridiculously great, it's a very small quibble. The pacing on the back half of the disc slows subtly, intentionally, beautifully into the opening bars of the finale, "Take Me With You When You Go," but there's no way Jack could leave without rocking his way out the back door.
Mind meld: Lead single "Love Interruption" might be the best song of the year so far. It's a whole lot of blues, a little bit of rock and a big dash of something really twisted.
See him live: Lollapalooza, Aug. 3-5, exact date TBD. Go—this is going to be mind-blowing.
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