The Dead Weather - Horehound

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

After kicking off their collaboration with a deeply counterintuitive cover of Tubeway Army's 'Are 'Friends' Electric?', Jack White and Alison Mosshart (eg her out of The Kills who isn't dating Kate Moss) consummated their midnight union with this album, a heavy-as-mercury piece of relentless blues rock.

The album's musical temperament is perpetually stormy, opening with the distant thunder rumble of '60 Feet Tall', which unwinds like some fever dream collaboration between bluesploitation singer Betty Davis and The Stooges, before exploding into the first of many fearsome Led Zep guitar solos.

The soupy, sulphuric atmosphere continues on second track and first single 'Hang You from the Heavens', where Mosshart's bad girl testifying casts light on the swollen organic mass of noise thrown up by the band. Towards the end of the song, White's drums take centre stage, first with a skitter, then as a syncopated tumble. That White is a fine drummer should come as no surprise. This man can seemingly turn his hand to anything musical and make it work - his side project of madrigals for synth and nose flute is potentially only minutes away from release.

But what holds The Dead Weather together beyond his and the rest of the band's uniformly great playing, what stops this being a collection of muso-headed blues jamming, is the interplay between White and Mosshart, best shown on 'Cut Like a Buffalo', where they trade vocal glances, including some frankly odd gurgling sounds. 'Is that you choking?' they holler at one another, 'Or are you just joking?' Some classic White songwriting is also in evidence in the song's lyric: "You know I treat you like a joke/ but you can't tell when I'm joking." The raging, vengeful 'Treat Me Like Your Mother' gives Mosshart full reign to vamp up her voodoo woman sex appeal, while a cover of Bob Dylan's 'New Pony' bucks and stomps under the force of the guttural call-and-response freak out the band summon. Instrumental '3 Birds' is like the jazzy theme music to some forgotten 60s spy thriller dissolving in a vat of battery acid.

No, there's not much variety, but if you're looking to have your ears irrigated by some maximum strength, cranky, no frills rock'n'roll then Horehound does that job nicely.

Best tracks: 'Treat Me Like Your Mother', 'Cut Like A Buffalo', '3 Birds'

Richard Morris

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