How much consolation do you want?

Jack White has always been a quick worker and when there are four pairs of hands making light work of the music, it can’t be any great surprise that The Raconteurs second album ‘Consolers of the Lonely’ was thrust upon the public with little pre-fanfare or weeks of build-up. They may still be viewed as a side-act by some people but with The White Stripes being de-railed by Megs concerns about touring and Jack’s legendary itchiness to play, we may see The Raconteurs take the spotlight for a bit of time now. Steady as we go, as they say!

The opening blast of the album relies on the heads-down full-on manic attack as Jack and Brendan share vocals and screams between them and the title track and ‘Salute Your Solution’ gets the long-player off to a fine and passionate start. And it is a long-player, with the album clocking in at over an hour and the variety on show first rears its head on ‘You Don’t Understand Me’ which is a far more chilled out affair, almost a lazy blues number with underlying piano fills and splashes casually playing with oohing and aaahing backing vocals. This track is definitely a nod of the head to the soft 1970s rock era but the following ‘Old Enough’ goes back even further and could easily pass for a late 60s Crosby, Stills and Nash number.

Its hard to overlook the sense of fun that exists within The Raconteurs as though it’s a chance for the musicians to relax and play with a smile on their face and really pay homage to their influences as opposed to playing to the constraints of the fans of their more general everyday bands. Okay, Mr. Benson has a slightly different feel to the other three players but the Greenhornes, who provide the drum and bass driving force on the album, were as raucous and as tied to the Detroit sound as much as Jack White so this band still represents a reaction away from what may have been expected.

‘Five On The Five’ made it into the bands set-list back on their October tour and it went down a storm and due to the decision to sell official “bootlegs” of each show, many people will be more than familiar with this number with its rattling cow-bell accompaniment and the nasally squealed vocals which rush over fighting guitars and an understated yet impressive bass-line makes it a good shout for a future single.

Due to the short nature of release and no preview copies floating about, there maybe hasn’t been as much time spent over this album as would have been liked but that’s three full days it has been kicking about and whilst there may appear to be as many big choruses as the last time around, its an album that has gotten better with every single listen.

The slide guitar swamp stomp of ‘Top Yourself’ with the horn and mariachi trip of ‘Many Shades of Black’ means there is something for everyone on the album and its on the latter that Brendan Benson again proves that he is no lesser vocal talent that Mr. White and this track is likely to be a massive live favourite, and hopefully the UK shows wont be too far away.

The album closes with ‘Carolina Drama’ where Jack White gets to unfold a tale of intrigue and murder which further highlights the quality of the singer’s song writing capabilities. This is the man who could make the world believe that his wife was actually his sister and as he doesn’t come from either Texas or Ayrshire, that’s quite a feat. It’s the longest track on the album and its got some uplifting moments where the string section spirals and its pretty obvious to say that this could easily be taken from a climactic end of a film as opposed to a climactic end of a record.

Like so many albums of the time, it is perhaps overly long and a more selective selection could have created a modern-day classic but you know something, that’s a pretty churlish thing to say. If you feel so inclined to chop it up, then stick it on your mp3 player and do your thing but everyone else can sit back and enjoy the sound of a band at peace with themselves and the world they are found in. That and get singing along to the “lalalalala” refrain that brings the album to its close.