David Taylor // Contributing writer
After five years, The Dead Weather has returned with an album as outlandish and ferocious as the rest of their discography. With a self-described sound of “when a bear comes from behind a tree and does two swift collection pulls towards itself,” The Dead Weather is a rock supergroup forged in aggressive rhythms and hi-tech distortion.
The band began in 2009 as a simple 7-inch record between Jack White, Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Dean Fertita of Queen of the Stone Age, and “Little Jack” Lawrence of The Raconteurs. Once in studio, they quickly wrote multiple songs. The session grew into two and a half weeks of producing their debut album, Horehound. The next year they released their second album, Sea of Cowards.
The group has been relatively quiet since 2010, except for the release of two songs on 7-inch vinyl through the Third Man Records’ Vault subscription service. But the release of Dodge and Burn brings back The Dead Weather’s brand of strange music. This year the band released two of four videos directed by White about instrument technique for each member, featuring bizarre interviews.
The strength and versatility of The Dead Weather is fully showcased in Dodge and Burn. The smash-and-crash drumming of White resonates with Lawrence’s scuzzy bass lines and Fertita’s slick riffs. Mosshart’s voice morphs throughout the album from a howling powerhouse to smooth, velvet vocals. It’s a bare knuckle brawl between punk greasers in a gothic graveyard on a stormy night ending with an unexpected sunrise on the final track, “Impossible Winner.”
Of course, the group has a habit of ending albums with unexpected songs. “Will There Be Enough Water?” from Horehound is a soft refrain compared to the rest of the album. “Old Mary” from Sea of Cowards is a surreal prayer at the end of absolute mayhem.
That surreal nature is resurrected on the Dodge and Burn track “Three Dollar Hat.” The song starts with White rapping about a standoff between Jackie Lee and Johnny. It doesn’t end well for one of the characters, but in the middle of the song there is a complete shift from the creepy, offbeat story to a brief, high octane bridge with ripping vocals from Mosshart.
Dodge and Burn as a whole is as sharp and infectious as a rusty razorblade. It showcases dynamically dark sounds like the theme to a back alley knife fight. But curveballs like “Impossible Winner” and mindbenders like “Three Dollar Hat” are what make the album, and The Dead Weather, truly enjoyable.
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