Largely devoid of life and inspiration, Boarding House Reach is a signifier that White has fallen to the sludge of age and is out of touch with the eccentricity of his youth. Given that Lazaretto and Blunderbuss were in most parts brimming with energy, say with bluesy-rock powerhouses ‘I’m Shakin’’ and ‘That Black Bat Licorice’, Boarding House Reach really is the Sonic Highways of White’s career: through experimentation and blatant weirdness he has lost the essence of sound that has made him such an icon.
This record has a lack of any real songs, ultimately becoming 44-minutes of disappointing instrumental with the occasional blip of spoken word. In ‘Ice Station Zebra’ White attempts to rap over a remorsefully basic beat, and it is as bad as it sounds.
It is fair to say that the album both begins and ends with ‘Over and Over and Over’, yet even this track is scarcely innovative. The continuation of the same two riffs through the duration of the song suggest a real lack of effort on White’s part, however it is proof that some genius does remain in White, with lyrics such as “I think, therefore I die/ Anxiety and I” exhibiting the ease with which he dabbles into a seemingly non-exhaustive list of historical inspiration, succeeding to combine this with an introspective outlook.
‘Respect Commander’ too deserves some attention, for it is wonderfully composed, yet with the exception of ‘What’s Done Is Done’ which is driven by the same folksy nostalgia as much of Lazaretto, the record is an epic frustration and a disastrous pitch at originality. It is a real surprise that anyone should find substantial enjoyment in this record.
Image: kris krüg via. Flickr