Jack is back with ‘Lazarreto’
Thom Behrens | Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Jack White’s lead single and title track off of his forthcoming album, “Lazarreto,” was released April 19, National Record Store Day. It has gained notoriety as the “world’s fastest record” — it was recorded In White’s Third Man studio the morning of the 19th on vinyl masters, driven immediately to production at United Record Pressing plant in Nashville, and copies were returned to the store and sold that same day, according to NME.
The new single starts off with a badass riff of a bass line that gets you bobbing your head even before the drums come in eight seconds into the song. A four-count on the snare accompanied by a crazy, De Stijl-like screaming, fret-climbing note ushers in White’s vocals, which haven’t lost a single bit of angst since their first debut in 1999. White sings over the bass line and drum accompaniment, singing in metaphors about his separation from his wife. Although no official statement has been released by White on the meaning of the lyrics to the song, and has in fact publicly stated several times that he doesn’t sing about his ex-band mate and ex-wife, Meg, White’s lyrics in “Lazarreto” tempt even the most devout Jack White fans to question their content.
Multiple times White likens himself to a slave-worker; Lazarettos were, in fact, maritime quarantine centers used to hold passengers on human trafficking ships between Africa and the U.S. and the U.K. Speaking of himself as detached, trapped and separated from “God herself,” he uses language about missing and pining for those he is no longer allowed to see, mentioning that he can simply “shake God’s hand” whilst confined, though he is trying to escape.
These lyrics, as romantic as they may or may not be, in no way detract from the crisp harshness of vocals, hardness of tone and intense instrumentation, for which Jack White has become notorious.Jack leads out of the verse with a sporadic and aggressive guitar solo, then drops the riff, picking up a bridge overplayed by synthetic, psychedelic, spiraling tones perfect for head-banging. The song as a whole is certainly more complex than anything White wrote with The White Stripes and goes beyond even his work with The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs or his debut solo album, “Blunderbuss.”
But one symptom of this new complexity and expansion of sound is the use of electric violins in the last minute of the song. While White is commendable for his experimental use of the violin as a staple for one of his songs (they’ve only appeared before as accompaniments on a select few of White’s previous tracks), it detracts from the feel of the song. The violins carry with them a distinctly bluegrass twang and, on a first listen, seem totally out of the blue and almost disconnected from the rest of the song. I think they make a cheap excuse for an outro. If White plans on incorporating the violins extensively into the rest of the album, my hope is that he finds a more organic way to use them.
“Lazarreto” will be released on Third Man records June 10. White, who has been a staple for the development of garage rock since before the turn of the century, is bound to produce a strong album if this song is at all indicative of the direction White is moving with his music.