Boarding House Reach is an utterly unique Jack White album — made with the assistance of ProTools, it’s as layered and overstuffed as The White Stripes were austere and straight-forward. Unsurprisingly, some people love it and some people hate it.
I fall on the love side, as I wrote in my review last week:
What really sets Boarding House Reach apart from Jack White’s records is that making it seemed … fun. I’m not sure if Jack White would take that as a compliment, and believing that is a compliment probably means that I also care too much about process. (Also: I still like the Jack White records that were as much fun to make as churning butter.) But even geniuses need to loosen up sometimes, especially if they want to avoid long-term burnout.
Boarding House Reach feels like a much-needed release of White’s tension valve. While he’s still the best and most charismatic rock musician of his era, sourness has come to define White’s public persona. This album is the most promising sign yet that he can eventually overcome that, leavening his stern “defender of musical values” image with genuine oddball eccentricity. You don’t always have to fight a seven-nation army; occasionally, you can rap at them about living large.</p>
This week’s guest on the Celebration Rock podcast, Pitchfork senior reviews editor Jeremy Larson, definitely leans to the not-love side for Boarding House Reach. So is this record a fun curveball or a confused mess? Could it possibly be both? Let’s find out!