Wednesday, June 27, 2007

You Don't Know What Love Is

Note: This is the obligatory White Stripes review that all music bloggers are required by law to post. For those of you who may live in a cave, The White Stripes released a new album last week, entitled Icky Thump. I don't want to spend too much time on this, for several reasons (ahem):

1. The White Stripes' record label has specifically asked us not to post any mp3s from this record. The White Stripes do not need any help from bloggers promoting this record, and I do not say that sarcastically;

2. Most of you reading this blog purchased this record approximately the day that it came out, have probably listened to it approximately twice as many times as I have, and could probably write a review that is approximately five times better than this one; and

3. This record is so good that not that much needs to be said about it.

First off, a confession. Although a big fan of White Blood Cells, I was actually beginning the process of writing them off after their last record, Get Behind Me Satan. I know it's blasphemy, but the Stripes were really beginning to sound like something of a novelty act to me. Having heard some good hype for Icky Thump though, I figured I'd check it out. Damn. This is one outstanding record. In the words of my friend Scott, "It's got bagpipes, man. Bagpipes!" That, it does -- on the folkish "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn" and Meg's fever dream "St. Andrew (The Battle Is In The Air)" -- bagpipes and so much more.

The widely-distributed title track is classic Stripes, but Stripes on steroids. This record is Jack and Meg writ large, with enough depth of sound that one hardly notices the drums/guitar-only novelty of their act (is it my imagination, or has Meg, like, really improved on the kit?). Of course, there's a fair amount of White Stripes eccentricity here as well; most notably, on the mariachi-inspired "Conquest", which Time magazine stupidly criticized as an "album-stopper," but is actually an excellent example of the quirkiness that sets the Stripes apart.

Other standouts include the Zepplinesque "Bone Broke," the outstanding headbanger "Little Cream Soda" (how can you not love the "oh well, oh well" lyric?), the blues ballbreaker "Rag and Bone" ("Meg, look at this place . . . this place is like a mansion!"), and the classically simple "Effect and Cause," which may be the best modern protest song that I've heard, even though that certainly is not its overt premise. Oh, and don't forget the psychobilly "Baby Brother," which I would probably post, if I could. But I can't, so I won't. Whatever, I still love this record.

Okay, I've already gone on longer than I intended. The White Stripes don't need us to help sell their record -- their record company has told us so. But this Icky Thump is good shit, what can we say . . .

YouTube: The White Stripes - "Icky Thump" from Icky Thump