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The Raconteurs

Consolers of the Lonely (Third Man/Warner Bros.)

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The White Stripes' color scheme is thematically crucial. Jack and Meg paint their albums in bloody red chunks of guitar and blindingly white splashes of cymbals. None of their records evokes any other color — even though last year's Icky Thump flirted with green on the bagpipe cuts. Within the subtle, gritty shades of their limited palette, the Stripes have folded all kinds of sounds and reconstructed each one to match their single-minded and blunt dynamic.

Jack White is way more colorful when he steps out of his signature duo and plays with the Raconteurs, the side project he co-leads with pal Brendan Benson. Yet the part-time group will never match the nail-biting intensity the Stripes bring to their best albums. So, on their second album, Consolers of the Lonely, the Raconteurs forget about all that and pile on the fun. Who cares where they stole the driving chords that fuel "Salute Your Solution" and "Old Enough" from? These songs rock hard and often. And you can't beat that rainbow-hued palette.

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