Review: Jack White — Boarding House Reach

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at 4:35 PM
Review: Jack White — Boarding House Reach by Hannah McDonald

★★☆☆☆

After a four-year hiatus from an original album, Jack White is back...and "better than ever" is too strong of a phrase. Although containing some very strong tracks, "Boarding House Reach" requires more warming up to than most listeners will probably be willing to give it.

Released last Friday, "Boarding House Reach," is White's newest project. The 13-song album is a wild ride from start to finish, that's for sure. Each track is just as bizarre as White himself, but not in the immediate, good and funky way that fans were hoping for after 2014's "Lazaretto."

"Boarding House Reach," includes elements of 80's rock, alternative effects, gospel and classic country. And this isn't separated by each song. White has managed to genre-mix to an extreme within nearly every track.

The pulsing drone of the first track on "Boarding House Reach" draws listeners in with hope. It is interesting and different. That hope is crushed just 40 seconds into the track. The chorus doesn't seem to fit the mood set in the first 10 seconds of the song. Not to mention, it is repetitive, making the song feel like it is ten minutes long when its only four and a half. They 80's-esque keyboard and guitar solo in the middle is redeemable but not so much so that "Connected By Love" should be considered a strong first track.

Redemption comes for White on the album's third track, "Corporation." An opening groove reminiscent of the White who is known and loved immediately perks ears. Strong riffs and percussion that bring the memory of The White Stripes are complimented by the bouncy bongos that make an appearance midway through the song. Even White's vocals are entertaining.

"Corporation," stands out from the album because it is considerably stronger than all of the other songs on the album. It comes after two slow, drawn-out tracks with much needed high energy. It makes sense why it was released earlier this year as a single.

Also released as a single was "Over and Over and Over." Upon first lesson, this track was on the verge of truly terrible, but as noted in a previous piece, ***(((Natlie, you can link to the 5 hot single post here if you want)))*** the bridge of this song makes it worth a listen. "Over and Over and Over," sounds annoying on its own – which is the point of the track, yes – but putting it in the context of a full album is very much for its benefit.

"Everything You've Ever Learned," carries a unique narrative. Distorted vocals yelling the question, "Do you wanna learn?" are paired to perfection with guitar and percussion creating a necessary movement to the song. Though lacking lyrically, "Everything You've Ever Learned," is interesting musically and sets the album on a better track for the second half.

"Respect Commander," follows it up and is definitely interesting as well. The different audio elements seem to be having a conversation before White even joins in.  A highlight of this track is the electric guitar moment. With White's talent, it would be hard not to enjoy and groove along with this.

White was clearly trying to do something different with "Boarding House Reach," it simply seems as if he fell short. The album is utterly strange. Through many listens, I tried to love the strangeness as I have loved White's pervious works, and it has, sort of worked. Each listen makes it better but it is definitely and album that requires a lot of listening and an already deep seated adoration of White to love.

Stream below:  

Hannah McDonald can be reached at musics.spectator@gmail.com.

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