Under the shadows of Jack White's other band and a guerilla marketing plan, The Raconteurs have released a tidy sophomore album. Equal parts frenzy and orchestration, Consolers of the Lonely impresses far more often than the band's occasionally frigid debut; still, with four more songs and nearly a half-hour more material, it also falters more.
This time around, White, who felt oddly distant on the debut, is a major presence, wailing, crooning and barking as his guitar runs wild. From the fuzz-box blasts of rowdy single "Salute Your Solution" to the trill outbursts of "Five on the Five," White seems less self-conscious about allowing listeners to draw comparisons between his pet project and his day job.
The supporting cast? Perfectly serviceable. The group's rhythm section, Jack Lawrence (bass) and Patrick Keeler (drums) of the Greenhornes, know when to smash and grab--check the locked beats of "Consoler of the Lonely"--and when to play it close to the vest--as on the slinky, brassy "The Switch and the Spur." Meanwhile, Brendan Benson, occupying an unenviable role singing and playing alongside White, often manages to hold his own; he also offers the album's biggest flop in the big, dumb rock of "Attention." In all fairness, White also stumbles with the schmaltzy parlor blues of "You Don't Understand Me."
Complaints aside, the album ends with the excellent backwoods, slow-burning noir of "Carolina Drama," suggesting that the band's third album will finally be the one we've been waiting for.