It’s time to erase the word “supergroup” from your vocabulary. After so many pretentious, lackluster efforts made solely for monetary gain (ahem, Chickenfoot), “supergroup” has become shorthand for any collection of like-minded musicians drawn together for all the wrong reasons. And that’s a pity because occasionally groups of already established musicians can actually be spectacular.
The Dead Weather is one of those special cases. With The Kills’ Allison Mosshart on vocals, Queens of the Stone Age’s Dean Fertita on guitar, Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs on bass, and the almighty Jack White on the drums, The Dead Weather seems more an artistic endeavor than an attempt at harvesting cash crops.
Each and every part of this puzzling arrangement was perfectly chosen to progress further the bastardized blues so familiar to Jack White’s fans. There are hints of so many different influences in the band’s debut release, Horehound (available July 14th on Third Man Records), that it doesn’t fit into any specific genre classification too snugly. A toned down, droning guitar rocks thick blues riffs that mesh beautifully with Mosshart’s somber and dreary vocals, while Jack White takes the back seat for a few moments to pound out some simple cymbal clashes and snare roles.
Opening track “60 Feet Tall” begins with slight disorder, fairly undistorted guitars, and a swelling drum beat, with Moshart’s vocals drenched in reverb. As an intro, it sounds hollow, and acts as a precursor to the immense fullness of The Dead Weather’s sound.
As the lengthy five minute track drones on, listeners are tricked by a constant crescendoing into thinking the song could break at any moment. When it finally happens at around the halfway mark, it quickly returns to a steady tempo that continues to rock until dissipating into the simplistic ‘hi-hat, hi-hat, snare’ one, two, three of “Hang You From The Heavens.”
Jack White finds himself taking lead vocal responsibilities on a few tracks, but who could really have expected him to simply sit idly at the back of the stage? “I Cut Like a Buffalo” plays like a perfect mash up between blues and reggae, with a throbbing organ thrown in to keep measure amongst the chaotic passages. White’s staccato and out-of-focus voice plays perfectly with the slightly unsettling song format.
Slightly more preferable, though, are White’s accenting vocals, like on that of “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” where his cacophonous call “It’s time to manipulate!” plays off of Mosshart’s uniquely bellowing female touch on the microphone.
All of the alubum’s 11 tracks have their own merits. Whether it’s their unique take on Bob Dylan’s “New Pony” or the eerily subdued “Will There Be Enough Water?” there’s plenty here to please. This music is dark, and it’s undoubtedly got it’s own unique pulse. Horehound is a creature that carries a sting and a bite, and never lets this “supergroup” fall into stale territory.
Listen to the album in it’s entirety on that Facebook advert that you can never get to leave you alone.