In the micro attention span age, artists frontload albums; Jack White (White Stripe, Raconteur, Dead Weatherer) holds the concept of the album dear, and his debut as a solo artist – something of a surprise – is perfectly suited to two sides of vinyl.
Trouble is: that doesn’t make for a balanced listen. What develops, in an old-fashioned way, from track one to 13, is an album so very much of two halves that you return again and again to the second one. For the first six tracks, with the exception of the downbeat, Fender Rhodes-heavy Love Interruption, no new ground is covered, and White’s continual po-faced, humourless approach to lyrics and riffs becomes tiresome. But by halfway things open up; a valve is released and a willingness to experiment – to care less – breathes life into proceedings. I’m Shakin’ is great fun, On And On And On is graceful in its piano swoon (the key instrument on much of the second half) and Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy has a McCartney swagger.
If you can put the sixth form lyrics and first half aside, Blunderbuss is a great record. Ironically, having been authored by an artist so entrenched in old school formats, it’s also best suited to the cherry-picking nature of the MP3.