Consolers of the Lonely (Warner Bros.)
ESSENTIAL "Many Shades of Black"
On the occasion of their second album, the Raconteurs offer some advice about relationships that is equally applicable to their own artistic inspiration: "Take it as it comes/ And be thankful when it's done/ There's so many ways to act/ And there's many shades of black." Jack White, whose day job is lead singer of the White Stripes, initiated the Raconteurs as a lark that proved he could act the part of straightforward tunesmith after working with the Stripes' bare-bones blues. 2006's "Broken Boy Soldiers" was workmanlike and catchy, but "Consolers of the Lonely" is something entirely different. White is running full-speed as a Raconteur as well, and other musicians should be thankful when it's done. "Consolers" is terrifyingly tuneful, its power-pop stylings encompassing everything from the Southern-fried soul of "Carolina Drama" on to Elton John piano rock on "You Don't Understand Me." Not content to merely shake up the music industry by releasing "Consolers" with only one week's advance notice, the Raconteurs have also had the nerve to drop a near-classic album. [Saul Austerlitz]