Jack White’s Latest Album, Boarding House Reach, is going to hit the market on Mar. 23. In a little less than a month, the album is forecasted to make waves in the alt–rock and grunge worlds. Boarding House Reach comes as a much needed break from White’s hiatus: his last studio album, Lazaretto, was released four years earlier, in June of 2014.
White is best known for his role in the rock 'n' roll duo The White Stripes. After producing a series of chart–topping hits, the band officially split up in 2011. Briefly, White collaborated with a number of other artists, including The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, before embarking upon a solo career. Since then, he’s produced two solo albums, Blunderbuss in 2012, and then Lazaretto in 2014. Additionally, he’s released a number of compilation and live albums.
In many ways, White carried over The White Stripes’ sound into his solo work. Blunderbuss and Lazaretto continued the brooding, serrated, and rhythmic sound of past White Stripes albums, like Icky Thump, Elephant, and Get Behind Me Satan. White has perfected the art of minimalist rock: rough drums combined with loose guitar and, of course, White’s raw, nasally vocals.
Boarding House Reach seems to be a different beast, though. From White’s three pre–release singles, “Connected By Love,” “Corporation,” and “Respect Commander,” it’s clear White is venturing into new territory. So far, Boarding House Reach feels electric and futuristic. It’s more in line with the sound of groups like The Flaming Lips than his past work. Sonically, it’s a departure from the bare–bones, vigorous, and organic rock that we are programmed to expect from him. In a way, these songs feel artificial: White incorporates screeching synths, heavily mixed guitar solos, and auto–tuned screams.
Yet the same old Jack White is still present on this record. As always, his rhythm pervades his music, and although these three singles feel distant, White’s relentless percussion grounds them for us. The dystopian aspect of these songs is recognizable, too. So far, the album feels jarring and dissonant, just as White’s work has always been. The same characters—flawed authority figures and soulless corporations, ambiguous lovers and uncertain friends—resurface again, but this time in a new and interesting way. Boarding House Reach beautifully walks the line of freshness and familiarity. All in all, Street has high hopes for this album.
“Connected By Love”
“Connected By Love” is easily the most traditional song of the batch. Here, we see White as his most raw and unfiltered self. Heavy, bluesy guitar riffs anchor the song, while R&B organs inject the tune with glitzy, vintage energy. On this track, White is pleasantly optimistic—he sings about a promising connection with a lover, strong enough to provide him with refuge and shelter.
“Corporation” begins similarly to “Connected By Love.” The song’s simple yet intense central riff and White’s callous calls of “Who’s with me?” feel like something we might find on Icky Thump. Three or so minutes in, though, the song takes a turn. With a scattered, schizophrenic bridge, the song unravels, albeit in a compelling way. White assaults us with auto–tuned screams, rogue synth lines, and rhythmic breaks, keeping us on our toes.
“Respect Commander” is the strangest and most unexpected song of the three singles. Accompanied by high speed drums and highly edited extras—some of which include an infomercial–esque blast of sound, an ambient sort of howling, and a remixed bubbling gurgle—the song feels almost commercial. It could easily be part of a movie soundtrack, especially given that White doesn’t sing until about two minutes in. Once the vocals come in, though, the song returns to the familiar. Jaded and cynical, White shows us the darker side of the lover he brought to life in “Connected by Love.”