The Dead Weather

Jack White is a really good guitar player. With The White Stripes and The Raconteurs, he's shown off his proficiency in a variety of styles and genres (six years later, the faux bass line of "Seven Nation Army" is still stuck in a lot of heads). So it's perplexing that in The Dead Weather, his current project and the most ubiquitously publicized band of 2009, he's playing...drums? It feels like a novelty for novelty's sake, like Michael Jordan trying baseball. On Horehound, he has exactly one guitar appearance: album closer "Will There Be Enough Water?" And he doesn't sing much on the record, either, with the bulk of the vocal duties going to Alison Mosshart, frontwoman of the lo-fi duo The Kills.

The intent behind White taking a back seat, quite literally, is clear: More than any of his other projects, The Dead Weather is a collaborative effort among the entire band (rounded out by guitarist Dean Fertita and Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence). All four members have songwriting credits throughout the album. So, unsurprisingly, it's also the least retro of White's three bands. The fast and fuzzy "Treat Me Like Your Mother" sounds downright modern.

There's still plenty of Jack White influence here, though. He produced the album, after all. But by stepping away from the guitar, he allows other talented voices to step up.