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The peculiar thing about this third full-length from The Dead Weather is just how low-key it seems, especially given that Jack White is not normally known for keen avoidance of publicity. The press release that comes with it stresses that the band won't be touring the album, as if that's every bit as important a piece of information as the tracklisting and the liner notes; it does at least, in theory, put to rest the fears of Kills fans impatient for another record - they've heard nary a peep since 2011's Blood Pressures - and anybody who thought that White's pledge to step back from the live stage last year might have been an elaborate - if scarcely interesting - ruse.

There are twelve tracks on Dodge and Burn, and four of them have seen the light of day previously, through Jack White's Third Man Records Vault subscription service - usually only the preserve of people who enjoy novelty wax. You could perhaps be forgiven for suggesting there's a throwaway feel to the way this album's been put out; incredibly, it's the band's first in five years, even though they seem to have been around for much longer. Instead, though, Dodge and Burn is the first Dead Weather record to provide genuine, progressive evidence that this most shoehorned of musical arrangements is perhaps finally beginning to bear fruit.

If you can cast your mind back as far as the band's first appearance on British TV, on Later...with Jools Holland, you'll be able to recall the strange chemistry that dictated their live show; Alison Mosshart, the Kills frontwoman who had previously placed so much stock in subtlety and implication, was suddenly going off like a firecracker, whilst Dean Fertita served up vanilla riffs that he must have collected from the studio bin when he recorded with Queens of the Stone Age. White, meanwhile, crashed through primitive drum parts, all the while looking like he'd swallowed a wasp; he seemed desperate not to come over as the (famous) elephant in the room. On this record's opener, though, it's like it's all come together at last; 'I Feel Love (Every Thousand Miles)' is a rip-roaring affair, with a swashbuckling riff matched all the way by Mosshart's trademark vocal swagger.

The rest of the record doesn't quite keep pace, but by finally casting off past insecurities and placing Mosshart front and centre, there's real progress being made. The Floridian has always been able to boast a commanding stage presence as one half of The Kills, but on both Horehound and Sea of Cowards, there was always the sense that she was having her wings clipped by White; this time, though, she struts through the likes of 'Let Me Through' and 'Lose the Right' with bluesy entitlement, and on closer 'Impossible Winner', her take on balladry flies closer to, say, her excellent cover of Marilyn Monroe's 'One Silver Dollar' than The Kills' turgid 'The Last Goodbye'.

Mosshart can't carry the record on her own, though, and elsewhere, there's not quite the same spark; even where there's experimentation with the guitar work - the punky, almost industrial 'Mile Markers', for instance - it comes off as hackneyed, and the by-numbers likes of 'Buzzkill(er)' and 'Be Still' feel far more pedestrian than a band with this much talent amongst its ranks ever really should.

There is clear, if fleeting, evidence on Dodge and Burn that The Dead Weather are gradually moving towards a record on which they'll be able to exploit everybody's ability to their collective advantage. Given that they're all now going their separate ways for the foreseeable future, though, only a soothsayer could predict whether or not we'll ever see that potential capitalised upon; for now, like so many other supergroups, White and Mosshart's collaboration feels like a tale of the proverbial nearly men - close, but no cigar.

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