The White Stripes- Icky Thump (Warner Brothers)

The Arts — By on July 10, 2007 at 3:20 pm

One of the great pleasures of life in post-9/11 America is the arrival of a new White Stripes album. They’ve been rolling out in tidy two-year intervals since the time of troubles began- each one a reminder of the awesome, primal power lurking at the root of both blues and rock (two of the most American styles of music). Sprinkled on top are the quirks: Jack White’s hiccupy voice and oddball outlook, Meg White’s childlike exuberance on the drum kit, the occasional use of marimba or some similarly left field piece of instrumentation. And let’s not even talk about their clothes…

The White Stripes’ latest red, white, and black dispatch from Dubya’s America is their sixth album overall and it may be the best rock and roll record you’ll hear this year. The title track and first single, “Icky Thump” is nearly an icky mess, seemingly held together by Jack’s six-string voodoo (he does have Satan behind him, right?) and Meg’s bash and crash. “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)” seems a better bet for mass appeal with its big power chord riff and hip-shaking tambourine beat. “Bone Broke” resembles a mangled Led Zeppelin outtake and “Conquest” (a Patti Freaking Page cover?) is totally wacky with its mariachi horns and off-kilter melody. “Rag And Bone” bites the riff from Van Halen’s “Fools” (thus proving that Jack only jacks from prime sources) to lay a backdrop for comedy, as Jack delivers an amusing, semi-off-the-cuff spiel to an unheard third party looking to offload their junk.

Much like the last White Stripes album (2005′s Get Behind Me Satan), Icky Thump‘s true strength lay in its slower tracks. “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” in particular is a real trip. With an intoxicating combination of bagpipes and mandolin, Jack and Meg suddenly appear to us as the headlining act at a renaissance fair. The closer, “Effect And Cause” sounds so timeless it might as well be a campfire hand-me-down. The song’s lyrics about the proper placement of blame lead the listener to wonder: Do the White Stripes make the world of rock music (a nation even bigger than America itself) a better place with their continued presence and imaginative minimalism, or do they just make all-too-many bands seem like hopeless hacks by comparison? In “Little Cream Soda”, Jack offers a perfectly American answer: “Oh well.”

RATING (1-10): 9

    2 Comments

  • Jack says:

    Inquiring minds want to know… what about the new Smashing Pumpkins!

  • Rob Cee says:

    Corgan is still bald. Ha! That’s my review. The band went to pot once he went for the Destro look.

    While it’s noble that he called it Smashing Pumpkins and bothered to get Chamberlain to play drums, getting another chick bass player was a lame bait-and-switch tactic. He should have gone even further with it and hired an Asian-looking rhythm guitarist. James Iha is probably weeping somewhere… about not being invited to the party, and about how bad his solo album from ’98 was.

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