Fans will have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Help Us Stranger; the first album from The Raconteurs in eleven long years. Anticipation has been driven up in recent weeks as Jack White and the band performed a solid set ahead of headliners, The Strokes, at All Points East a couple of weeks ago.
Help Us Stranger, an album not-to-be-missed for the loyal fans of the band, is also an easy-listen for those who haven’t heard much of The Raconteurs in the years gone by. The reunion of the band emerged after Jack White and Brendon Branson started jamming again with drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence for the first time in over a decade, and, subsequently created twelve engaging, rocky, bluesy, tracks.
It’s a fine combination of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin; giving all the rock, grunge and blues vibes that we’ve come to expect from any project involving White. While the album is not particularly daring or too different from Broken Boy Soldiers, their debut album released in 2006, it does offer a nostalgic nod of the head to vintage rock in a handful of songs on the record.
The album opens with ‘Bored and Razed’; rock riffs, up-beat, strutting-down-the-street, good ol’ classic, Raconteurs which his quickly followed by ‘Help Us Stranger’, a song which gives you the understanding of how it became the album title as soon as the chorus hits. You wanna be in a crowd, drinking copious amounts of beer and shouting those lyrics with your mates. Further down the track list, you have songs like ‘Thoughts and Prayers’, ‘Now That You’re Gone’ and ‘Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)’ to play when you’re not feeling one-hundred-percent. But even then, when you’re dragging your heels, the rhythm guitars, heavy rock chorus’ and bluesy beats will keep you going.
A track to look out for is ‘Sunday Driver’, a real highlight on the album. Easy riffs, smooth guitar solos, and sing-a-long lyrics; honestly, what more could you ask for? It has potential to be a future hit, or just a song to keep on your BBQ playlist, ready for when the British weather decides to pick up (or to bang on this weekend if you’re lucky enough to be in a less-rainy area of the globe).
All-in-all, a solid album. No surprises or daring creations, it might not be the most striking of records, but who says it needs to be. Classic Raconteurs through-and-through, and that’s what the fans wanted and that is what they received.