fri 12/08/2022

Album: Jack White - Fear Of The Dawn | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Jack White - Fear Of The Dawn

Album: Jack White - Fear Of The Dawn

Rock reupholstered for a hip-hop world, in outraged, hungry songs

Jack White is still unsatisfied, and rock’n’roll still unfinished business for its most extremist exponent.

His last pre-pandemic album, Boarding House Reach (2018), seemed a major blow to his career, its experiment in warped dynamics and Beat spoken-word relatively rejected, despite its chart-topping start, a setback barely arrested by the Raconteurs’ reunion.

This fourth album in his decade-long solo career is barely more conventional than its predecessor, but is really a sequel to Lazaretto, in which The White Stripes’ fetishising of the blues was widened to absorb hip-hop and R&B. This was music he’d distrusted when it dominated his adolescence in Detroit’s Mexicantown, and he strummed an acoustic guitar on his urban back porch. Now, though, he wanted “to move forward to [music’s] next stop”. Just take a look at the videos for “Lazaretto” and “Freedom At 21” – the latter by Kanye’s director, Hype Williams – to see Jack’s vision of the rock star, and electric guitar, in a hip-hop world.

Fear Of The Dawn – the noisier half of a two-album blitz this year – lives in that world too. It’s complexly collaged rock music, achieving sampling’s effects organically, and digitally editing analogue work. Production is artfully compressed, smashing into the speakers. “Take Me Back”’s air-raid guitar and stuttering keyboard glissandos, the instruments interchangeable in the confident bedlam, ram relentlessly into “Fear Of The Dawn”, which puts Status Quo boogie through a science-fiction mincer, and reupholsters Jimmy Page’s “Whole Lotta Love” production for a 21st century dubscape, Jack’s guitar solo strutting and squalling over the pummelling, tunnelling melee.

“The White Raven” allows a moment’s breath, before abrasive rasps of guitar and coal-mine pick-axe percussion accompany his hysterical vocals’ wild claims of invisibility and invincibility. “Hi-De-Ho” takes Cab Calloway's "The Hi-De-Ho Man" to Hell, melodramatic Balkan cries switching to a Q-Tip rap referencing Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry and Mariah Carey, then baroque guitar and bratty yatter suggesting fellow Detroiter Slim Shady. “Eosophobia” (joining Boarding House Reach’s “Hypermisophoniac” in Jack’s dictionary of unlikely conditions) is a sonic playground combining bright, Beatlesque guitar and dub echoes. “It’s nothing complicated,” he insists. “Like getting hit with a hammer.” He instructs the sun to come up here, as his young daughter once asked, after he switched on the rain sound effects which comforted him in his soundproofed Nashville mansion, so sadly different from his cramped hubbub growing up. Abandonment and outrage feed these hungry songs.

“Into The Twilight” comprises lonely, tolling piano, metallic drums, splintered phrases and an actual sample of Manhattan Transfer’s cocktail vocalese. “You cut into the present,” a hardboiled, neurotic voice declares, “the future leaks out.” Then “What’s The Trick” sets out Jack’s philosophy over a new blues, checking himself in 2022’s mirror. Romantic dissatisfaction, as so often, seems an intrinsic source of misery and spur to action. Satisfied paranoia enflames him - “100 insults left on my windshield this morning,” but dissolved by rain before others see. “That’s a defeatist attitude!” he then rails against a mathematical answer. “What good can come from comfort?” he once asked. This song of heavy, squelching fuzz guitar and ranting, impossible complaint, sung from a lonely place, is Jack White at home.

“Morning, Noon and Night” borrows from The Kinks’ “All Day And All Of The Night” in its desire for 24-hour love, and reluctantly accepts time’s one-way hour-glass, a crime this action man can’t solve as he consciously, mortally ages. The urgency is felt throughout, the experiments and replenishments of his beloved guitar’s possibilities resulting in compulsive rock.

Abandonment and outrage feed these hungry songs

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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