Jack White's newest foursome leaves behind the arena experimentation of the Raconteurs in favor of post–Icky Thump notions of what a gender-swapped White Stripes might be. White has found his distaff mirror in the androgynous alto of Kills frontwoman Alison Mosshart, at times mixing her vocals to be indistinguishable from his own; there's palpable relief as he splashes about behind the drums where he sat in his very first band happily dispensing the melodic duties to others.
The first half of Horehound is just weird enough to be utterly mesmerizing, a series of ominous, fuzzed-out psycho-blues riffs that climax in the tremendous Rush-meets-Jay-Z rave-up of ''Treat Me Like Your Mother.'' But creative disintegration floods the record's latter regions with less captivating bump-'n'-grindhouse grooves, an aggro Dylan cover (''New Pony''), and a skittish instrumental (''3 Birds'') just enough indulgence to remind lonely, overanalytical White Stripes fans that this is a side project, nothing more. Sigh. B
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