Published Jun 06, 2014Weeks before the release of Lazaretto, Jack White caused a minor splash in the music press when he called the Black Keys' music "watered-down." Although these comments may hold a shred of truth, they only place further pressure on White to create something exceedingly special with Lazaretto. As his 2012 solo debut Blunderbuss demonstrated, White no longer seems interested in (or capable of) matching the shrewd songwriting style that defined the White Stripes, opting to fill those gaps with quirky effects and charming melodies.
White channels Booker T's kinetic energy on "Three Women," while the title track constructs a larger-than-life personality that many of today's rock stars seem much too self-aware or meek to exude. Even when he falls flat, like on the Dixie Chicks-esque "Temporary Ground" or the awkwardly funky "That Black Bat Licorice," he goes down swinging. Lazaretto will no doubt be heavily scrutinized by critics and celebrated by hardcore fans, but love it or hate it, nobody can call this stuff "watered-down." (Third Man Records)