Jack White takes a step further away from Stripes

Published 7:29 pm Saturday, June 14, 2014

Jack White is still searching for his post-White Stripes sound … or maybe his post-White Stripes sound is defined by searching.

White released his second solo album “Lazaretto” on June 10 and no one can accuse the veteran guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer of regurgitating what made him famous with the White Stripes.

ListenInnOn “Lazaretto,” White explores a smorgasbord of styles, so much so the album often feels more like conjoined EPs than an album. Stylings and musical ideas begin and vanish abruptly as White spans different plains.

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The transformations are the album’s greatest strength and weakness at once.

The album opens with the jaunty “Three Women” and continues with the brightly distorted title track “Lazaretto.”

The first few times I listened to the album, I couldn’t help but compare it to prog rock in that it feels heavily produced and plotted when compared to the raw vigor and simplicity of the White Stripes.

The album meanders through its first few tracks, but then bursts to life on the haunting “Would You fight for My Love?” — perhaps the most dynamic songs on a dynamic album.

The album rocks across tracks like “High Ball Stepper,” which sounds the closest to a discarded and revamped White Stripes tune. It turns bright on the piano-backed “Alone in My Room” and “Entitlement.” It returns to jerky distortion on “That Black Licorice.” And then it takes a bit of a country vibe on “I Think I Found the Culprit” before it closes on a quiet note with “Want and Able.”

Despite all the sauntering pleasantly across the musical spectrum, White’s creative engine binds it all together — it’s just a question of how tight each listener thinks those binds are.

 Other listens

The “Ultra LP”

On “Lazaretto,” Jack White and his team at Third Man Records the vinyl has a bit of everything — and I mean everything. Side A plays backward to locked groove on the outside edge of an LP — perhaps a first on the outside. Both sides include hidden songs under the label that play through the paper. The LP features all three vinyl speeds — also likely another first. The first song on Side B has an acoustic and electric introduction that mold together partway through the song. Side B also features a hologram of a floating angel in the deadwax.

This isn’t your dad’s discarded LP collection.

Is this absolutely bizarre? Yes. But it’s like shooting vinyl nerds in a barrel. Vinyl collectors will find it hard to say no.

Hear more about it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-8B-_Jq2ro