Jack White embraces experimentation with “Boarding House Reach”

Jack White returns with his first project in four years

Justin Angellar

Jack White will forever be tied to his massively popular rock-duo “The White Stripes,” the dominant force in alternative rock in the late nineties and early 2000s. A combination of garage-rock guitar distortion and pop melody sensibility helped solidify the White Stripes as an instant classic and forward thinking act.

Following the release of their final album “Icky Thump” in 2007, the duo split, launching the solo career of Jack White. Jack’s post-Stripes career saw him forming and dismantling multiple bands, as well as releasing multiple solo albums. Though some endeavors were better than others, none of these projects would match the groundbreaking force of his previous work, and it would be easy to assume that his creative skills may have dulled after the break-up.

After the release of “Boarding House Reach,” it is clear that his creativity is still sharp as it ever has been. White’s latest album is a complex experience, and certainly more experimental and brave than any project of his has ever been.

The most striking feature upon first listen is the sheer amount of instrumentation and noise happening at any given time. There is no dull moment on the album, there is always something new happening, whether that is a distorted-beyond-recognition guitar tone or a spacey synthesizer solo. Due to this overwhelming complexity, this is assuredly the least pop-friendly album White has released in in his entire career.

The albums lead single “Connected By Love” sounds as if it was created solely for a sold out arena, with its bombastic chorus complete with driving synthesizers and gospel-esque backup singers. In a similar high-energy vein is “Corporation,” where White plays the role a manic street preacher yelling about plans for his corporation for anyone who is willing to listen, accompanied with hand drums and monoliths of distorted lead guitar phrases.

The driving lead guitar of “Over and Over and Over” compliments the chaotic pitch shifted backup vocals to create a track that toes the line between catchy and terrifying. If any song were to be the hit of the record, it would be this one, though even this is a near-mess of complicated drum fills and excited patches of noise.

The most traditional song on the album is the country-twinged “What’s Done is Done.” This, along with “Humoresque,” seem like fitting closers for the ride the album has just taken you on. They slow the wild experience to a halt and provide context for the chaotic mess that took place directly before, encapsulating the album in a somber way.

A third act in the career of Jack White has been unveiled with “Boarding House Reach.” From the driving force in alternative rock, to an evolving solo artist, to the confusing and creative place he’s at now. Though it is in no way radio-friendly like his previous work, “Boarding House Reach” will remain a lasting edition to White’s discography, for it’s conceptual nature and experimental bravery.