The Dead Weather don’t like to call themselves a supergroup, but they undoubtedly are. Jack White (drums, vocals, guitars) has become an acclaimed solo artist during recent years and was already famous for The White Stripes. Alison Mosshart (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards) is one half of the rough and tumble pop duo The Kills. Dean Fertita (lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) hails from Queens of the Stone Age. And Jack Lawrence (bass, backing vocals, drums) is in one of White’s other bands, The Raconteurs, in addition to The Greenhornes and City and Colour.
“I’m a bad man, let me through,” singspeaks Mosshart on “Let Me Through,” one of the best songs on Dodge and Burn, and you’d better fucking believe her. The song is driven by Lawrence’s fuzzy bass as much as White’s persistent drums. But it’s Fertita’s razor sharp guitars that pierce your soul, not unlike a classic Jimmy Page riff, although he sounds more like Page on opener “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles),” which might as well be The Dead Weather’s “Black Dog.” Like Led Zeppelin, they mix mean and gritty blues with the darker side of classic rock for an all-out sonic assault that scratches at you like a wild tiger; you feel like you’ll be sliced apart if you get too close to your speakers.
“Beautiful lies, undertow, creeping up, on your soul,” Mosshart sings, channeling Jim Morrison, on “Cop and Go,” one of the album’s more threatening numbers. Lawrence’s bass here is all get-the-funk-out, Fertita’s guitars like a red light flashing “danger zone” and White’s drums like Bill Ward on the first Black Sabbath record.
It sounds like White is banging on a plastic bucket as “Be Still” begins, but it isn’t long before real drums kick in. The keyboards play an especially prominent part here, the song ultimately sounding like Janis Joplin fronting Iron Butterfly. The only problem is that it’s only 2:48 and feels like it should’ve been longer. When the keys get glorious at the end, you want it to continue progressing, to grow even more climactic; it almost feels like an unfinished idea.
Speaking of ideas, closing track “Impossible Winner” has some of the band’s best to date. It’s a wonderful piano and strings number that wouldn’t be out of place in a Broadway musical. One hopes the band does more songs in this vein on their next album. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they had their own version of Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain”?