In 2006, alternative rock band The Raconteurs released its album Broken Boy Soldiers, then, two years later, released another album, Consolers Of The Lonely, utilizing a more country-folk sound and proving a knack for a diverse and unique sound.
After 11 years of side projects and success from the members of the American rock band, they are finally back together and blending elements of both of their previous albums on their latest installment, Help Us Stranger.
Hailing from Detroit, the band consists of Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keller. After finding fame through his rock duo, The White Stripes, White got together with Benson and wrote a song, which led to the entire group getting together in 2005.
During their 11-year hiatus, Benson launched his own record label, Readymade Records, and released multiple albums. White arguably had more success by not only pursuing a solo career but also forming The Dead Weather with The Raconteurs’ bassist, Lawrence. Now, Help Us Stranger is not only an epic reunion for the group but a unique album that continues on their previous releases.
In recent pop and rock trends, there aren’t many songs with truly meaningful lyrics that represent a plethora of different moods and events. Help Us Stranger has those meaningful lyrics that cover a lot of ground in-depth. “Only Child” talks about the pressure and struggle of being an only child and trying to live up to people’s expectations. “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)” talks about feeling bad and taking the time to feel those feelings and cope with them. Finally, “Now That You’re Gone” deals with the feelings after losing someone you love, and, ultimately, wishing they feel horrible, too.
The album stands out for many reasons, but what’s really special about it is the way each track has its own unique vibe to it. Every song has a certain feeling, with the traditional rock feel on “Bored and Razed,” reflective folk-rock on “Only Child,” heartbreaking blues on “Now That You’re Gone” and a bit piano balladry on “Shine the Light on Me.” The genre-shifting, fun and exciting sound all create a potluck blend of gorgeous music.
Occasionally when groups take such a long hiatus from their music, they can come back years later with a completely different sound. However, The Raconteurs stayed true to its initial sound: the rock and powerful aspects of Broken Boy Soldiers, mixed with the country-folk, upbeat sound of Consolers of the Lonely. Everything about the album’s sound is authentic to the group without creating something boring.
Help Us Stranger is an on-brand, individual and meaningful album that brings many different sounds together while also reuniting a great band again. The band will hopefully continue to make music, but not forcing listeners to wait another 11 years would be nice, too.