The Dead Weather, Jack White’s third-best band, are pumping up their image as bluesy analog throwbacks with an unusual method of pre-release album streaming for
. For the next 24 hours on the band’s website you can watch a live camera feed trained on the resolutely spinning new record, with someone popping into the frame every 15 minutes or so to flip sides. There are occasional technical snags; a brief error message simply read “There is some dust on the needle.” Of course, because it’s a constant stream, you also have to listen to the album all the way through or risk hearing cut off versions of the songs.
With a streaming method so intertwined with concepts of time, we’ve gone one step further and attempted to pinpoint the exact best times for listening to the individual songs on the album. Hopefully you’re nocturnal, because something about the sun being up and people walking in the streets doesn’t match up to the misanthropic murder fantasies and violent ideas belched up from the Dead Weather’s grimy underworld. Sea of Cowards isn’t exactly conducive to daylight. Or joy. Or sustained human interaction.
“Blue Blood Blues”
Lyrics like “when I come home I make them nervous” mean that “Blue Blood Blues” is best for the 5 p.m. return home from work, frustrated from the traffic jam and storming into a house in anger. Later lyrics also imply a man’s plans to murder his wife and vowing to cover up any trace of the evidence. You know, just a typical after-work conversation with Jack White.
“Hustle and Cuss”
A bassface-inducing rhythm section coupled with heartbeat drums actually makes you want to move, so consider this the song to use as pre-dawn workout motivation, with “hustle and cuss” the strangely fitting instructions for such a task.
“The Difference Between Us”
Alison Mosshart sings call-and-response with her own recitations in this song that sounds surprisingly similar to the Flaming Lips “Convinced of the Hex. (even sharing the titular lyric).” “The Difference Between Us” is for a late night following a really crazy blind date, out wandering the city and easily susceptible to situations where two people can “go where no one can see us/and find the difference between us.”
Such a declarative title is pretty indicative of the Dead Weather’s misanthropy; ostensibly, the perfect time for listening to this song would be strapped down on a gurney being wheeled into a mental institution. Barring such drastic measures, “I’m Mad” seems perfect for black magic ceremonies by crazed Jack White fans at the stroke of midnight. The entire lyric is punning riffs to be had from discerning whether the madness of the title is insanity or anger, punctuated by manic giggles and laughs that slide into an affected vocal squeal.
“Die By The Drop”
The companion piece to “I’m Mad,” tailor-made to blast menacingly from speakers anytime between the suffocating darkness of a cold winter night. Histrionic response vocals clamor against Mosshart’s unaffected recitation, with heavy feedback and sounds of strings snapping off a guitar.
“I Can’t Hear You”
“I Can’t Hear You” is cougars-on-the-prowl night life territory, soundtrack for a creepy stalker stumbling from bar to bar as the night winds down. Mosshart’s voice sounds completely boxed in amidst the relative calm but the lyrics have an intrusive slant: “I’m gonna teach you/and keep you for myself/I’m gonna take you by the hand/and walk you to my house.”
Scuzzy and squeaky reverb, a clavinet being slowly exhumed from the ground, and guitars that spiral like emergency sirens from a burning sky. Mosshart is unequivocal: “I don’t want a sweetheart/I want a machine.” Another song more suited for midnight insanity than sunny daytime fun, considering the lyrics essentially describe really rough sex taking place in the middle of a natural disaster, with the smells of gasoline all around.
Chunky, scuzzy guitar riffs back Mosshart as she takes a few drags on her cigarette. She yips and yelps histrionically; taking the lyrics at face value, this song is a pretty literal cigarette break.
“Looking At The Invisible Man”
Electronic belching and vomiting mix in with helicopter swirls up the scale, sputtering into a grinding main riff. Remember how “Blue Blood Blues” would be best for an angry homecoming following a frustrating traffic jam? “Looking At The Invisible Man” would be the song on the radio during that traffic jam when your engine suddenly broke down.
“Jawbreaker” features stuttering jackknife guitar, little pricks that eventually crescendo into piercing, angry swoops and stabs. Drums are so purposefully shitty they were probably recorded in a sandpit in the middle of a rainstorm, which itself would the ideal listening environment for this song (and the album as a whole, really). Ending with an buzzing dial tone makes me feel like this is the soundtrack for one of those creepy motel horror movies, where the victims are huddled together in a phone booth as a storm rages outside only to find the lines have been disconnected.
An inversion of Hail Mary, describing a woman’s grief to be carried with her from “now until the moment of your last breath.” Glitchy white noise drips in the background, along with stray bleeps and drum sticks, with the organ pounding at the door of this haunted house; it’s such a Halloween creepshow song that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t recorded as a holiday novelty. Prepare for “Old Mary” to be on every Halloween playlist from now until the moment of your last breath.