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The Guitarist Of The Year: 11. Jack White

The post-break up insanity of Blunderbus may be behind him, but Jack White still provides plenty of disjointed innovation on Lazeretto.

Monday, 22. December 2014  -  by  David Hayter
Jack White @ Firefly Music Festival
Photo: Mark Runyon |

Jack White has been called weird before. His demented howls and spectre-like-silhouette give him the aesthetic of an outsider, but his music has always been fundamentally conservative. He was a blues primitivist who loved old equipment, archaic recording techniques and vintage pop. This didn’t prohibit The White Stripes from earning revolutionary status – the starkness of their minimalism and the sheer array of riffs, inspired a generation without necessarily ripping up the rock rule book.

Lazaretto is strange by comparison. It is both more of the same – the record is steeped in classic rock, blues, country and pop references – and something completely different entirely. The album feels wonky, as if he’s hammered together these decaying slabs of moss-riddled timber with bent and rusty nails into a demented halfway house. The result is not a psychopath’s homemade retreat – Jack’s pop nous is too substantial for the outright nightmarish – but it’s certainly an unnerving distortion.

The sounds on Lazaretto are wonky (comically so at times), the product of fiendish obsession rather than anything as definitive as love or hate. Piano keys clank, backing vocals coo with vaudevillian glee and Jack’s guitar struts almost obliviously one moment, before crumbling to the floor in a heap the next. The whole project is legitimately bad arse, but in an intensely insular way. This is not White Stripes-esque music for the masses; Lazaretto is a really rather brilliant take it or leave it oddity.

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