Jack White - Boarding House Reach
Jun 3, 2018 (updated Jul 5, 2018)
“Rock is dead.” A phrase that is all too often thrown around.
In the past 30 years, rock has steadily declined in prominence, with adult alternative bands like One Republic and Maroon 5 and arena rock/electro-pop fusion bands such as Coldplay and Imagine Dragons continuing to water down the once highly name of rock music. While many have hailed traditionalist bands such as Greta Van Fleet (and Tame Impala, to a certain extent) as the “Saviors of Rock,” I believe that if rock wants to survive, it must evolve. But if rock is dying, it certainly won’t go down without a fight, as evidenced by Jack White’s latest LP, “Boarding House Reach.”
Jack White rose to fame as the better half of garage rock duo, The White Stripes. Him and drummer Meg White created a cult of personality around themselves fueled by Jack’s proficient guitar work and sneakily solid songwriting and Meg’s back to basics husky drums. The White Stripes not only were hugely influential in bringing elements of blues and punk back into the mainstream, with tracks like “Seven Nation Army” and “Fell in Love With a Girl” but also were dynamic and could showcase a folksy softer side with tracks like “We are Gonna Be Friends.” Of their six critically acclaimed studio albums, one good introduction for first-time listeners is 2003’s “Elephant”—due to how evocative it is of the White Stripes sound.
After the White Stripes broke up, Jack White continued releasing music, starting with Blunderbuss. This album is filled to the brim with quality songs that go in a more singer-songwriter direction, while still maintaining a rock edge. It works not due to its sonic palette, which can be a bit basic at times, but its quality songwriting, and cheeky lyrics. When you take that away, you get its insipid younger sibling, Lazaretto, which was for the most part painfully uninteresting. It didn’t add anything new or interesting to the sounds of Blunderbuss, and it left me not really looking forward to his future output. However, it’s safe to say that Boarding House Reach blew me away. Jack White takes a sharp turn into left field from the played out, safe Lazaretto and really goes freaking wild with experimentation, and it’s extremely liberating.
On this LP, Jack delves into the theme of creativity being sapped by the modern age. n “Ice Station Zebra” how many are put in boxes and on over and over and over describing how the stigma of rock and roll has put him in a Sisyphean state. Lyrically His response isn’t given to this problem he sees, but instrumentally, Jack pushes back by creating some of the most cutting-edge rock music of his entire career.
The sound of this album is definitely rock, but elements of hip-hop (Ice Station Zebra), funk (Get in the Mind Shaft), country (What’s Done is Done), and even spoken word (Abula and Akrasia) sneak their way into this album.
Although the album is chock full of great tracks, there were a few that stood out to me especially.
“Corporation” is the perfect blend of catchy and experimental. The shouts of “Who’s with me?” indoctrinate the listener with a sense of and are especially hard-hitting in the startup culture of silicon valley. Jack White’s distorted vocals add an insane energy to the track. He sounds like a mix between a coked-up televangelist and a turtlenecked tech company CEO.
“Respect Commander” has an incredible song structure. It starts off as a speedy ‘80s-inspired then evolves into a warped, woozy, almost drunken midsection that is reminiscent of The Beatles’ “She’s So Heavy.” This continues into a monster guitar solo that leads back to the intro of the song.
“Over and Over and Over” is probably the most white stripes song on the album (which is unsurprising considering it was written in 2005), and even this track has loads of wild electronic instrumentation. The riff is super hard, and the tense, almost spectral background vocals add a sense of spiritual weight to the song as if they’re the muses in Jack White’s retelling of Sisyphus.
“Ice Station Zebra” is a prime example of a great mix of old and new. It sounds a bit if someone used mid-‘70s equipment to make a late ‘50s jazz song with a rapper from the early ‘80s. Many have criticized this song based solely on the fact that Jack is rapping on this track. And while I see how this could turn people off, to me it feels less like an attempt to be relatable to the “kids these day,” and more like a counterpoint to the husky, stop and go, instrumental. Jack’s post-ironic Beck-esque flow actually lends itself to the absurdist tone of the track and further pushes boundaries.
The only track I would say is subpar is “Esmeralda Steals the Show,” which is a spoken word track that is fine on first listen, but the double-tracked vocals and repetitive guitar line become grating and skippable on further listens.
I didn’t come in expecting anything and I was blown away by just how much this album is an experience to listen to. If you are looking for some fresh and inventive rock and roll, this album is a must listen. In fact, if you’re looking for some good music in general, this album is a must listen. This album pushes all the right boundaries for an aesthetically rich and thoroughly satisfying listen and rock is all the better for it.

This review is too damn long.
Jun 7, 2018
Additional point: It sound like jack white's music has finally caught up with his eccentric personality.
Jul 24, 2018
Boarding House Smash that fucking like button u bich
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