June 05, 2006 12:00 PM

Broken Boy Soldiers

REVIEWED BY CHUCK ARNOLD

CRITIC’S CHOICE

ALT-ROCK

Should Meg White be worried? Her White Stripes partner, Jack White, is stepping out on her with the Raconteurs, a side project that sounds like the real deal. The quartet’s first single, “Steady, as She Goes,” is catchier than just about anything on the last White Stripes record. All retro cool with its jerky rhythms and groovy bass line, it’s a near-perfect pop song that could be a lost Kinks gem. The more tuneful nature of this and other tracks on this concise, 34-min. disc could be attributed to the Raconteurs’ other lead singer-guitarist, Brendan Benson, White’s fellow Detroit scenester who has built a solo following making power pop. (The supergroup’s other two members, bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keller, are moonlighting from the garage band the Greenhornes.) They even conjure up the Beatles on songs like the psychedelic-tinged ballad “Together.” These dudes clearly have a thing for British classic rock: The spirit of Zeppelin, a major influence of White’s, can be heard on bluesy rockers such as “Level.” While White certainly seems energized to be working with his new, full band, Broken Boy Soldiers incorporates just enough weirdness to show that he hasn’t completely changed his stripes.

[STARS 3.5]

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Steady, as She Goes”

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