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Jack White - Boarding House Reach
Sep 12, 2018
95
Jack White shows the world why he's one of rock's legends with Boarding House Reach.

Anthemic songwriting with classic structures touched with some distorted guitars and electronic layers that serve as an ugly corsage on the messy suit of this album make this one of Jack White's weirdest releases.

The first two tracks provide kind of a slow and boring start to the album, while still feeling the way a rock album should feel, but once we get to Corporation, we understand what direction the rest of the album is going, though we won't be prepared for all the landmarks we will see on our journey. The consistent ascending and descending, beeping sample on Hypermisophoniac is a bit annoying, but I can't get myself to hate it, especially since we are blessed with great instrumentation over this. I can definitely see how a normie listener would eventually get sick of that sample, and this song could have been my favorite on the album if this had been executed in a less obnoxious and repetitive way, but I still dig the track quite a bit.

Ice Station Zebra is such a fun song, with some fun keys, a funky riff, groovy drums, and Jack White apparently doing some kind of rapping. The piano in this song is great, and the layering in this track is excellent in comparison to the previous track. Ice Station Zebra is definitely one of my favorites on the album.

In Over and Over, we see a modernization of an old school style of guitar playing, mixing a blues riff with a weird darker end-of-the-bar Queens of the Stone Age style riff, paired with a strange, almost somber choral group. This song is funky like a Motown song, but aggressive like a rock song, and soulful like a gospel song. It doesn't make any sense, but it completely works, and it's lovely. The following track, Everything You've Ever Learned, at only 2 minutes and 13 seconds with a good portion of this just being a spoken word from Jack, simply saying "Hello! Welcome to 'Everything You've Ever Learned.'" has a killer bass line while being loud and bouncy, featuring some Jack White screaming. This could essentially be an interlude, and one of the best ways to approach interludes I've ever heard.

The song Respect Commander starts an experimentation production wise as opposed to musically, until we reach the break where it becomes a Zeppelin style blues ballad, with yet another classic Jack White style solo. You hear the guitar solo, and you know you're listening to a Jack White song, and I love it.

Ezmeralda Steals the Show is clearly an interlude track that definitely belongs on the album with the rest of the tracks. You don't feel the need to skip this track, as little sense as the spoken word may make. I'm so glad that this song brings us to Get In the Mind Shaft, one of the best songs on the album, and one of Jack White's best songs in his solo career. A funky song with robotic vocals, likely with some sort of talkbox effect or a vocoder. The intro of the song, different depending on which vinyl or digital version you are listening to, is very touching and very fitting of the overall vibe of the album.

What's Done is Done has the same kind of slow vibe the earlier tracks had, but this song is a bit more exciting, as it's such a beautiful ballad with Esther Rose, with (yes, you guessed it) a modern spin, making this kind of typical songwriting almost unrecognizable. This is the perfect song to bring us to the closing track.

Humoresque is a somber and soft acoustic track that lays us down into bed as gently as a feather, as we reflect on the timeless masterpiece we have just witnessed. A loud explosion would have been too easy for an ending. I'm glad we got the moonlight breeze with just a bit of a crackle. I really dig the jazzy and natural sounding drums in this song. They beautifully conclude the album.

This album is great, and is one of Jack White's best efforts. Boarding House Reach reminds us that as the older rock legends leave us, rock and roll isn't dead, because we have torch bearers like Jack White to keep the mighty flame of rock alive.

best: Corporation, Ice Station Zebra, Over and Over, Everything You've Ever Learned, Respect Commander, Get In the Mind Shaft, What's Done is Done
worst: Hypermisophoniac
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