The White Stripes- Get Behind Me Satan (V2)

The Arts — By on August 5, 2005 at 1:42 pm

Jack White is the devil. This is what I thought in the time leading up to the release of The White Stripes’ newest album. Check the facts: (1.) The guy has a creepy, deathly-pale appearance and vibe (new for the ’05, Jack is also sporting a silent-film villain, pencil-thin mustache), (2.) His lone musical partner (Meg White) is a similarly creepy, deathly-pale doll who happens to be his ex-wife, who happens to be sometimes referred to by Jack as his sister, who happens to play drums with all the finesse (and technique) of a prepubescent John Bonham, and (3.) He’s the mastermind who produced Elephant, The White Stripes’ wicked-brilliant fourth album, and my pick for 2003 album of the year.

Then I realized the title of the aforementioned new album is Get Behind Me Satan. This would indicate Satan being addressed directly, thus shattering my illusion, but providing me with nearly forty-five minutes of consistent listening pleasure.

OK, maybe it’s not 100% consistent, but Satan soars far more often than it sinks, which is more than you can say for just about every other so-called rock band that stands a chance of getting played on MTV in this day and age. “Blue Orchid” opens the festivities, carried by a superfuzzed guitar riff that would sound right at home on a Queens Of The Stone Age or Fu Manchu record. “My Doorbell” is gold, featuring one of Jack’s classic hiccuped melodies. “The Denial Twist” and “Take, Take, Take” are funky as, ahem, hell. Jack even heads for the mountains again (much like he did last year on Loretta Lynn’s excellent Van Lear Rose) on the hillbilly-flavored “Little Ghost.” But the most striking track may be “As Ugly As I Seem”, where Jack, an acoustic guitar, and Meg’s hand drum (or is it a stomping boot?) make you feel like you’re sitting on the floor of a dimly lit studio around three in the morning, listening to rock history gently hit the page. Bravo, Jack.

A cautionary word to some fans of The White Stripes’ earlier work: this album may not make much of an impression on first listen. Piano, not electric guitar, carries many of these tunes, and the vibe throughout is more on the subdued side than you would expect. But with repeated listenings, Get Behind Me Satan may persuade you to jump in line right behind ol’ Beelzebub in Jack White’s demented conga line.

RATING (1-10): 8

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