theraconteurs_consolerscover.jpg Like everyone else in the world I’ve only had this album for a week or so instead of the customary advance copy a music journalist, sorry, hack, like me is used to. The Raconteurs surprised everyone when they announced they’d be releasing Consolers of the Lonely just a few weeks after completing it, rather than let XL Recordings sit on it for months getting the artwork, release date and promotion just right and why not? They created a buzz around the album with just a simple press release much like Radiohead did with In Rainbows. Though unlike In Rainbows, CD manufactures across the land had to work overtime because this wasn't just a download release, it was in the old-fashioned shop too. The Raconteurs are made up of musicians, successful in their own right, brought together by the joy of making music with your mates. Brendan Benson, Jack White, along with the Greenhornes ace rhythm section of Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler on bass and drums respectively, make up the aforementioned 'supergroup'. So with very minimal self-promotion and no reviews ahead of release date, they have let the music do the talking. And quite right too because they have produced a very good, and in some places brilliant, piece of work. Lead single 'Consoler of the Lonely' kicks off proceedings at a rollicking pace with Brendan Benson and Jack White sharing vocal duties and things don't let up with 'Salute Your Solution'. The band sound like they are brimming with confidence and free of any pressure, with flailing guitar solos and crashing cymbals abound. The tempo is taken down a notch with the piano-led 'You Don't Understand Me'. This could easily be a single as White takes a rare step away from the limelight and lets Benson do what he does best, crafting pop songs like these. The album could probably benefit if Benson took the lead role more often because it nearly falls into the trap of sounding like Icky Thump MK2. The mariachi brass in 'The Switch and The Spur' is straight from 'Conquest' and the bluesy 'Top Yourself' has been done by White's main band numerous times. But there is enough in this album that sets The Raconteurs apart from The White Stripes and closer 'Carolina Drama' is up there with the best work White has been involved in. It tells a story of cinematic proportions with great descriptive lyrics that fit the moody, understated music perfectly. Even White's acting experience comes into play in the vocal delivery. As the song reaches its climax he puts emphasis and passion into the words taking you right into the room where the action is taking place.Try to catch this band on the festival circuit this summer because they have made one raucous album, hardly letting up from start to finish and never does it feel like the work of a side-project. The Raconteurs are now very much a band in their own right and following this solid effort, they won't be filling large venues on the reputation of the band members alone.83%LinksThe Raconteurs [official site] [myspace]