deadweatherDodge and Burn is Nashville supergroup The Dead Weather’s 3rd album, through Jack White’s own Third Man Records. The band are an amalgamation of Raconteurs, with bassist Jack Lawrence and Queens of The Stone Age guitarist Dean Fertita joining Jack on Drums and The Kills Alison Mosshart on vocals. Any project of Jack’s is guaranteed top billing, and this band is pretty much as cool as a pop act can get.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a stronger rock front-person than Alison – the shape and delivery of her lyrics provides the highlight of the opening tune and single ‘I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)’. A bluesy, deep, layered guitar riff introduces the album, along with energetic drumming from Jack, and an understated bassline. It eventually breaks to a steady rhythm after a few verses, to build tension for this cracking mantra: “Why does my heartbeat feel like a speaker / feeding back / repeater repeater…”. Unfortunately, the standard isn’t maintained through the rest of the album.

There aren’t generally many amendments to the formula of their previous releases, other than the guitar effects that have been used, and a more show-like vibe. With exception, ‘Let Me Through’ sounds as though it’s The Kills with extra musicians, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Jack sings in a manic fashion during the intro of ‘Three Dollar Hat’, the most leftfield tune on the album. It tells the story of a presumably fictitious wild west character named Jacky Lee…a kind of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds ‘Stagger Lee’ homage of sorts. The guitar riff is begging to be sampled by The Wu-Tang Clan and Alison’s vocal is Bond-theme worthy, at times.

The songwriting continues to carry an Americana, glamorous-crime narration theme, with expressive vocal interplay between White and Mosshart throughout, who are seemingly acting out scenes from some sort of rock western opera. ‘Mile Markers’ is a low-light, with monotonous rapid vocals over a standard demo beat and a guitar riff that barely holds your interest, but it becomes almost thrilling after 2 mins 40 seconds, and is rescued from being dubbed a ‘filler’.

‘Too Bad’ is a personal highlight where everything clicks into place perfectly. There’s interesting sonic experimentation and a head-nodding beat under gripping guitar work providing Alison with the perfect platform on which to strut. But it’s the final tune, ’12 Impossible Winner’, a ballad, that showcases her vocal talents the most, sounding like a Bond theme from start to finish; lush strings accompany piano chords that all play second fiddle (sorry) to her voice.

Overall, I can’t help feeling disappointed in the album, not least because I expect so much from them. The single/first song promised so much. A fair dollop of gloss has been sprayed over these artists, who come from grittier and edgier backgrounds, but are straying too close to Pop for my liking. If they were to drift away from motion picture soundtrack territory, and back to something like a blend of The Greenhorns, The White Stripes and The Kills, I’d queue for a ticket overnight in the snow. They occasionally carry a wow factor, but I don’t find myself rushing to hit the repeat button…and I really wish I did.

Release Date 25/09/2015 (Third Man Records)

The Dead Weather OfficialFacebookTwitterSoundcloud

Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.