Plumbiferous Media

Horehound - The Dead Weather

Jul 16th 2009
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Horehound - The Dead WeatherThe Dead Weather
Score: 42

The Dead Weath­er is Jack White’s lat­est super­group, with Ali­son Mosshart, Dean Fer­ti­ta, and Jack Lawrence mak­ing up the oth­er three quar­ters of the band. The style this time around seems to stray even far­ther from The White Stripes than White’s group from last year, The Racon­teurs, did, adding a hefty amount of exper­i­men­ta­tion to a sound already filled with influ­ences from a large num­ber of gen­res. The dif­fer­ence between the two groups that is most notable, how­ev­er, is that White has cho­sen pri­mar­i­ly to be the drum­mer of The Dead Weath­er, giv­ing his unique voice a break. But while divert­ing the drum line away from the hands of Meg White cer­tain­ly aid­ed The Racon­teurs, this newest change did not ben­e­fit The Dead Weath­er, leav­ing its album, Hore­hound far less com­pelling than, say, Con­sol­ers of the Lone­ly.

On Hore­hound, The Dead Weath­er has the dis­tinct advan­tage of being able to com­bine the voic­es of two expe­ri­enced singers. This pre­vents Hore­hound from being just anoth­er album from either White’s White Stripes or Moss­heart’s Kills. How­ev­er, it does­n’t quite take advan­tage of the syn­er­gy of the two voic­es which, with their com­ple­men­tary attrib­ut­es, could have been quite well com­bined to cre­ate an inter­est­ing (and reward­ing) mix. Instead, they’re fit togeth­er with less care; they don’t ever quite work per­fect­ly and even occa­sion­al­ly clash. Addi­tion­al­ly, the moments when both vocal­ists are in sync, as they do on “So Far From Your Weapon,” are often cov­ered over by the music itself - in that case by overused syn­thet­ic effects.

Hore­hound is filled with the sort of exper­i­men­ta­tion that should add a lev­el of cre­ativ­i­ty to the album, from the rhyth­mic ener­gy of “I Cut Like a Buf­fa­lo” to the rather inven­tive cov­er of “New Pony.” But very lit­tle of the exper­i­men­ta­tion actu­al­ly makes for enjoy­able music. The ener­gy of “Buf­fa­lo” does­n’t quite work to sup­port a cohe­sive track, and “New Pony” is over-inven­tive, most notably with the vocals (which seem stretched for the sake of exper­i­men­ta­tion), to the point where it does­n’t come close to doing jus­tice to the original.

Lyri­cal­ly, Hore­hound is not strong or weak – it is sim­ply for­get­table. Though The Dead Weath­er is obvi­ous­ly try­ing to cre­ate mem­o­rable, odd lyrics, for which White and Moss­heart have been known in their respec­tive projects, it does­n’t quite suc­ceed. Instead, it turns out unin­ter­est­ing (and uno­rig­i­nal) lines like “You’re so cold and dan­ger­ous / I can’t leave you be.” Fre­quent rep­e­ti­tion cer­tain­ly does­n’t help this - though a few of the best lines from the album, like the slight­ly per­plex­ing “You know I look like a woman / But I cut like a buf­fa­lo,” man­age to be repeat­ed with­out becom­ing com­plete­ly banal.

Where The Dead Weath­er most often tri­umphs is in the instru­men­tals. The drums on Hore­hound imme­di­ate­ly make their pres­ence known with the rather heavy line on “60 Feet Tall;” how­ev­er, The Dead Weath­er suc­ceed­ed in rein­ing in the drums for the fol­low­ing track, “Hang You from the Heav­ens,” in which the drum­mer quite stun­ning­ly man­ages to take over the melody dur­ing a fill around the 35 sec­ond mark. More impres­sive­ly, dur­ing “New Pony,” the drums sup­port the entire track for a good por­tion of the third minute, fol­low­ing the gui­tar solo. The oth­er instru­ments also have their highs and lows on Hore­hound. While “I Cut Like a Buf­fa­lo” retains a sig­nif­i­cant, ill-fit­ting reg­gae influ­ence, the gui­tar line on “Rock­ing Horse,” though incred­i­bly repet­i­tive, nev­er becomes tir­ing, and acts as a major point of inter­est for the track. Towards the end of the album, on “No Has­sle Night,” a stan­dard Jack White gui­tar line is paired with a high line that seems entire­ly unchar­ac­ter­is­tic of White’s style yet fits with the rest of the track quite well.

Though the col­lab­o­ra­tion of Alli­son Moss­heart and Jack White in The Dead Weath­er was cer­tain­ly an excit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty, Hore­hound was­n’t as suc­cess­ful as it could have been. The tru­ly inven­tive and inter­est­ing parts of Hore­hound are often drowned out by those less so, and the failed exper­i­ments are much more promi­nent than the suc­cess­ful. It’s true that Hore­hound isn’t entire­ly unsuc­cess­ful - tracks like “Hang You from the Heav­ens” indi­cate that The Dead Weath­er can use all of the resources avail­able to them to cre­ate a gen­uine­ly engag­ing track - but, for the major­i­ty of Hore­hound, they’ve instead cho­sen to blind­ly experiment.

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