When Jack White formed the Raconteurs with his longtime Detroit crony Brendan Benson, the two friends proclaimed they were working on “Detroit’s answer to Nevermind.” But on Broken Boy Soldiers, they sound more like a fractured skunkweed version of Seventies-style Camaro rock. If you have a favorite Foghat album or if you can name a single member of Deep Purple, you will love Broken Boy Soldiers; fortunately, it doesn’t end there. It’s White’s first real musical collaboration — he always vowed the White Stripes could never use a bassist, or any other interloper, because he didn’t want to kill the Stripes’ one-on-one spontaneity. But as a Raconteur, he thrives on the band interaction, sharing vocals, songwriting and guitar solos with Benson.
White sounds cheerful and enthusiastic, quite a change from last year’s excellent White Stripes album, Get Behind Me Satan, where he sang creepy ballads about betrayal. Here, the mood is playful — “Intimate Secretary” begins with the lines “I’ve got a rabbit, it likes to hop/I’ve got a girl, and she likes to shop” — and the guitars are on fire in “Level,” “Store Bought Bones” and “Steady, As She Goes.” White and Benson let their high mannish-boy voices bleed together, as in their Elton John tribute “Together.” The album ends with two killers: “Call It a Day,” a power-pop ditty, and “Blue Veins,” a dead-hippie blues dirge that evokes Peter Green’s “Love That Burns.” Expectations were sky-high, but the Raconteurs exceed them all. Now all we need is a Meg White solo album: Meg Sings!