Has Jack White lost his edge? Vote below!
Inevitably, this will be known as Jack White’s divorce album.
Announced in 2011, the former White Stripes’ frontman and ex-wife Karen Elson have had a strained, very public split. From leaked emails that caused a stir over comments he made about The Black Keys to storming off stage because fans weren’t sufficiently stoked to his liking, the last few years have taken their toll.
And now, there’s Lazaretto, his second solo record, and it’s straight to the point.On the track, “Just One Drink,” White muses
You drink water I drink gasoline One of us is happy One of us is mean I love you Honey why don’t you love me?
Other tracks include the ominous “Would you fight for my love?” where he sings,
It’s not enough that I love you There’s all these things I have to prove to you
Are these songs all about his ex wife? Considering he’s also estranged from his first wife, the eponymous Meg White, it’s entirely possible that the heartbreak he’s singing about goes beyond the obvious. Either way, this is his album of hardship, the woebegone record of his sordid departures.
But where does it fit in the Jack White canon? Certainly, this is no Elephant, no De Stijl. This is no Horehound, no Broken Boy Soldiers. This album has a purpose. It is a carrier pigeon for the words and feelings he hasn’t — or can’t — say to the women in his life. It isn’t great for great’s sake, as those aforementioned masterpieces are. It’s great for the sake of something else.
And it is great. It’s beautifully arranged, well written, and of course, musically superb. But there’s still something there beneath the surface, some ulterior motive that makes it heavy and duller than the Jack White that didn’t give a fuck about anything but making your ears bleed from an overload of awesome.
One day, Jack White will release a record that doesn’t carry the cultural significance of his early work, much like the later McCartney records are just not as seminal as his early work, even post-Beatles. I’m not saying this is that record — clearly, I’m still writing about it — but I think this record is inching in that direction.