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Jack White: Blunderbuss (Third Man/Columbia) 

Blunderbuss debuted at No. 1, a first for Jack White. Albums released by his other projects (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather) have cracked the Top 10, but haven't taken the top spot.

This makes it an interesting moment to consider Jack White as a pop star, which he is and always has been. He's as masterful of an architect of his own self-presentation as Beyoncé or Gaga, but unlike them, he's really committed to a singular image: the skuzzy, sort-of steampunk troubadour. He's incredibly affected, and infinitely fascinating.

So one thing that's so striking about Blunderbuss is how naked and confessional it is. "I look at myself and just cover my eyes and want to give myself a new name," White sings on "On and On and On," before going on to envy the clouds in the sky for not having to make decisions about "what to do / how to act / what to say." On "Love Interruption," he seems to comment on his own fame, observing how love can "change (his) friends to enemies" and reveal to him "how it's all (his) fault." He knows the perils of superstardom, of being an icon to legions of fans. White's a great pop star because he knows how to reduce this experience into something deeply personal—to be both revealing and elusive.

All of the sounds and styles these songs explore fit the Jack White persona: a touch anachronistic, raw but filigreed.

More by Sean Bottai

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