JACK WHITE — BOARDING HOUSE REACH

Grade: C+
Release date: March 23, 2018

For someone who grew up in Detroit suburbs, I know rather little about Jack White; “Seven Nation Army,” was basically my college football theme song (I mean, it’s every school’s, but whatever), and I once went to a Halloween party at Meg White’s house (long after they had their falling out) and held a White Stripes Grammy, but that’s pretty much it. So, when I saw that Jack White had come out with an album today, I thought, “great, here’s my chance!”

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Expecting to find musical genius, I started questioning my own ability to discern good music, because I just didn’t “get” it. Then I read the Pitchfork review.

I’m sorry to say that Boarding House Reach would probably have been a grade-A instrumental album, but White’s nonsensical lyrics and unnecessary vocal wailing (in particular, the excruciatingly-shrill last minute of “Corporation”) so distract from any interesting instrumentation happening.

“Over and Over” features an almost gothic sounding choir — also featured on the opening track, “Connected By Love” — reminiscent of “Thriller,” which would be great if this was a Halloween song, but I really don’t think this is. But, the heavy guitar sound is head-banging gold.

The problem with the head-banging sound is that it lasts for most of the album….and then the penultimate track, “What’s Done is Done,” is a country (????) ballad. It also sounds like a duet, but there’s no featured artist listed, so I’m wondering if White just pitched his voice up an octave or two.

The last track, “Humoresque,” fits with the oddness and creepiness of the rest of the album, but listens more like a lullaby or the most terrifying song to ever come out of a music box.

White is obviously eccentric, so it’s possible I just don’t understand what he’s going for, but the 44-minute, 13-track album just seemed to last forever. It’s not terrible background music, as he’s an incredible musician and the technical aspects shine, but for active listening, it’s honestly just confusing. But, I highly respect White for doing his thing, and I’m sure long-loyal fans will love Boarding House Blues all the same.

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