Jack White's Latest Album Is Excellent (In Case You Missed It)

“Rock is dead. No modern rock artist can have a number one album. Anybody who makes something this weird can't make the Billboard 200 at all, right?”

But to the words of cynics, Jack White says “I don't care” and spreads his statement across a 44 minute album that blends roof-shattering rock, blues, electronic, hip hop, country, spoken interludes, and even jazz. “The one who is prepared is never surprised”, I guess.

The album kicks off with “Connected by Love,” a song that starts with an oscillating synth tone before climaxing with an explosive guitar solo. The lyrics show White trying to find shelter in a woman’s love.

“Why Walk a Dog” is one of the songs on this record that will grow more relevant over time. Questioning why humans (“beasts above understanding”) take over everything for their own pleasure, this song features a sluggish beat with synth embellishments and guitar fills popping out. Later on in the record on “Ezmerelda Steals The Show,” the topic of humans being taken over by their electronic devices is explored (“Their faces to their gadgets fall south/Ignoring the beauty of fog on a hill/And a kitten with a mouse in its mouth/’you people are totally absurd’”).

There are several songs on this album that are obviously edited down from long improvisations, such as “Corporation,” “Ice Station Zebra,” and “Get In The Mind Shaft.” For songs like these, Jack digitized the multitrack session tapes into ProTools for editing and mixing. While surprising for an artist such as himself, the use of said technology is one of the things that makes this record so unique. These musical styles have been recorded before by many people, but none of them have turned it into anything that sounds like this. Some elements of this album make so little sense that before long, they start to make sense.

However, there are still straightforward rock bangers like “Over and Over and Over.” “Hypermisophoniac” is inspired by a condition called misophonia, where everyday sounds trigger anger in people affected by it. During recent interviews, White has said that he wanted to use annoying sounds and try to “make something beautiful out of them.” He would be the first to admit that the “beautiful” part didn't work, but that he succeeded in annoying people.

Towards the end of the album, the songs start to diversify styles even more than they had done previously. “Get In The Mind Shaft” features a spoken word intro (vinyl edition has 9 variations with different intros, completely randomized) followed by a robofunk jam that seems mostly freestyled with the exception of the phrase “can you hear me now?” “What's Done Is Done” at its core is a country song with an electronic drum beat. The lyrics seem to show White lonely and fed up with the world (“I just can't fight it no more/So I'm walking downtown to the store/And I'm buying a gun”). “Humoresque” is a cover of a piece written by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak and has a soothing vocal performance followed by a piano climax. I do wish that the climax lasted longer before the song ended, but it still is a great way to end such a wild album.

As for the sound, I find the mix to be muddy, however I do think that the stereo placement and panned effects were done tastefully, if a bit gimmicky at times. The CD has a few songs that are barely tolerable with clipping (notably on hi-hats and cymbals), but the LP sounds as good as it ever will considering the cut-and-paste nature of this record. On my copy (TMR Vault edition), there is barely any surface noise and I can crank it up without getting fatigued, but there is not anything special about the LP mastering overall.

Music Direct Buy It Now

jokerman's picture

All I know is that the song he played on SNL was really bad.

J. Carter's picture

I don't think this album translates well to being played live. Those performances definitely didn't do those songs justice. It's a good album, not my favorite of his but it's good. It may take a few listens to appreciate though since it isn't like his previous stuff.

Anton D's picture

I can appreciate his "glorious mess" approach to many mixes, other times, not.

You made me look forward to when my copy arrives.


geoffrey's picture


Well written review. Keep 'm coming.

Best regards

Michael Fremer's picture
How well written was it? I didn't edit a word of it. It appears as it was sent to me. When I published The Tracking Angle I had many knowledgeable writers--all in their 40's and older. All of the copy needed re-writes or heavy editing. Malachi's copy was ready to go.
Lazer's picture

Every time I listen and now read what Malachi thinks... I smile. His enthusiasm and incredible knowledge makes me happy.

geoffrey's picture


Extremely well written indeed. Somehow i knew it wasn't edited. I write reviews myself (42 years old) and my stuff is edited all the time. I take my hat off for you young man. Well done. Don't like the album, love you.

Best regards

Vinylghost's picture

It took several listens for this album to grow on me.

Back to the "kid". I'm starting to think the government has some type of cloning experiments going on in the North East. Michael Jr. as I'm going to be calling him from now on. Whether natural, clone or synth it was an excellent review. Look forward to more.

Michael Fremer's picture
I sent a sample to 23 and me last year and he arrived at my door in a box.
audiophilewannab's picture

a regular Mini Me! ;-) ...in spirit anyway...

analogdw's picture

I didn't notice until reading the comments that this was written by Malachi! Is this his first contribution? Kudos to you for supporting him Michael. I look forward to more of his reviews.

Jim Tavegia's picture

I love his honesty about the music and the production.

Jim Tavegia's picture

that I wished my middle school students could have written like this. Very nice work.

Toptip's picture

Still, I think Jack White should have quit after “Seven Nation Army” but that is just my “gustibus.”

What is certainly “disputandum” is recording quality! Are the highs cut off with an 8kHz brick filter? Did he use a compressor to keep dynamic range within +/- 10dB?

jkingtut's picture

Care to comment yourself on this record?

cundare's picture

>How well written was it? I didn't edit a word of it. ... Malachi's copy was ready to go.

But consider this suggestion of an ex-journalist and current patent attorney. Even lawyers today (at least those who can write) avoid archaic, faux-formal usage of the word "said." Maybe it's just the OCD talking, but IMO only "amongst" is more grating.

O/w, I agree: The talented Mr. Malachi's review is quite well-written. A tip of the Hatlo hat.