What You Need To Know - June 21, 2019

The Raconteurs' Help Us Stranger: What You Need To Know
by James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

The Raconteurs' Help Us Stranger: What You Need To Know

It has been more than 10 years since Jack White donned his Raconteurs hat for the band's second album Consolers of the Lonely, but White and his partner-in-crime Brendan Benson are back with a brand new album after more than a decade away.

The new LP is called Help Us Stranger and hits the shelves in stores today. Here's everything you need to know...

A little background...

To hear them tell it, neither White nor Benson had any real designs on making a new Raconteurs album, and the new album may not have arrived at all if it wasn't for the fact that Benson dropped in on White while the latter was busy recording his latest solo album, Boarding House Reach. In the midst of writing for the album, White had come up with a piano-led number that didn't quite fit with everything else he was doing, telling Benson that he thought it sounded more like a Raconteurs song.

It didn't go anywhere at the time, but when drummer Patrick Keeler visited Nashville a couple of years later they hooked up for a jam session, which led to laying down a few tracks in the studio. Initially they considered releasing a 7” single, or maybe a live album recorded at Third Man's venue Blue Room, but according to White: “the songs came out really fast, and that was a great sign.”

The new album was announced in April, followed by a set at Third Man's 10th Anniversary show where the band debuted as many as 10 of the album's new songs.


Who's producing it?

The band themselves are listed as the album's producers, recording and mixing everything at White's studio in Nashville.


Any special guests?

Nope, it's just the four guys getting the band back together and, by the sound of things, having a lot of fun doing it.


What does it sound like?

In some ways, it's hard to believe that it has been over a decade since these four guys were all in a studio making music together. Tracks such as 'Sunday Driver' wouldn't have been out of place on their debut album Broken Boy Soldiers and the overall vibe of the album is reassuringly familiar, but it does feel a little more muscular this time around. Keeler's drums in particular sound bigger and beefier on the new album.

That's not to say they haven't moved forwards, though, and there are hints of the kind of experimentation that cropped up on Boarding House Reach here and there, although nothing quite as far out. Opener 'Bored and Razed' is one of the album's highlights, with White's scattergun verses providing the perfect counterpoint to Benson's soaring hooks.

Other highlights include the title track and an enjoyably ragged cover of Donovan's 'Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness).


Does it deliver?

If you enjoyed the first two albums – or if you're just a Jack White fan in general – then on Help Us Stranger you'll find all of the catchy, riff-laden tunes you'd expect from a Raconteurs album. There's absolutely zero trend-chasing going on here, and the new album is all the better for it.

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