The Dead Weather

Dodge and Burn

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

It took the Dead Weather two years to make and release Dodge and Burn, with the bandmembers recording whenever they had time to play together and issuing several songs as singles through Third Man's subscription service, The Vault. Despite these fragmented origins, this is the Dead Weather's most satisfying and engaging album, with everything that was good about their previous music getting a shot of adrenaline. The charged opening track, "I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)," is the first sign that things are a little different this time, with the spare swagger of '70s metal and boogie rock providing a platform for some of Dean Fertita's most unhinged guitar playing and some of Alison Mosshart's wildest vocals. If there's any question that Mosshart is a great singer, Dodge and Burn puts it to rest; throughout the album, she uses her ability to be tough, vulnerable, and sexy -- often at the same time -- to perfection. The way she snarls "I'm a bad man" on the glowering "Let Me Through" is scarier, and more compelling, than if any of her male bandmates had sung it. Meanwhile, "Three Dollar Hat," one of Jack White's few lead vocal turns, is a hip-hop-tinged tale of revenge that reaffirms he's always been more than a by-the-book revivalist. Elsewhere, the album's loose, try-anything feel honors the band's roots in impromptu jam sessions, whether it's Jack Lawrence's creeping bassline on "Buzzkill(er)" or the organ on "Lose the Right," which falls somewhere between dub and vintage horror movie music. However, the Dead Weather don't just rely on chemistry and chops -- Dodge and Burn also boasts some of their best-written songs. With its stark riffs and dense paranoia, "Open Up" rivals the best work from any of White's other projects, while "Mile Markers"' layered menace and sensuality make it a standout. There's a seedy, predatory undercurrent to songs like "Be Still," "Cop and Go," and "Too Bad" that suggests the album could be the soundtrack to a gritty crime drama, with the gloriously melodramatic ballad "Impossible Winner" (which may be an even better showcase for Mosshart's sentimental side than the Kills' "The Last Goodbye") playing as the credits roll. Perhaps the first time the Dead Weather have truly lived up to their promise, Dodge and Burn is a joyride of an album -- sexy, fun, and dangerous, it upholds the tenets of rock & roll.

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