Album: The Dead Weather, Horehound, (Thirdman)

Jack's back – and this time, he's just one of the band
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The Independent Culture

And for his next trick... Jack White, who has been cultivating a growing resemblance to a dissolute Victorian conjurer in recent years, has doffed his top hat to pull out – yes – another side project.

The Dead Weather is a supergroup in which the decision to put White's name last on all credits isn't merely a piece of coy, Tin Machine-esque false modesty. He is, officially, "just" the drummer, a job he fulfils with at least as much dexterity as his "sister" Meg (taking as read all the usual cruel caveats about that not being too difficult).

The fact that Horehound displays more six-string fireworks than anything White's been involved in since the Stripes' "Blue Orchid" has little, then, to do with the Dead Weather's most famous, just-one- of-the-band members: the lead guitarist isn't White, but Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age. Furthermore, it's easily the best thing the quartet's lead singer has ever done, given that she's Alison Mosshart of the mostly dire Kills, and the same can be said of bassist Jack Lawrence, given that he's been recruited from White's other other band, the somewhat tedious (c'mon, let's be honest) Raconteurs.

Horehound's nowadays unusually small number of tracks – this one goes up to 11 – allows breathing space, for instance on opener "60ft Tall", which swells from echoing Tex-Mex atmospherics to Led Zeppelin heaviness. Mosshart, a try-hard annoyance on Kills records, is, thankfully, just a cipher here, a blank sheet, a vessel (although she does excel on the Peaches-ish single "Hang You from the Heavens").

White is immense on "Treat Me Like Your Mother", providing both big Bonham-esque beats and backing vocals, while Fertita turns Bob Dylan's nonsensical "New Pony" ("I had a pony/ Her name was Lucifer", etc) into a staccato blues-metal monster.

The Dead Weather can't blame all their poor lyrics on other songwriters, though. The clunky metaphor in the closing track is all their own work: "Will there be water when my ship comes in?/When I set sail, will there be enough wind?"