The White Stripes – Elephant (V2, 2003)
The backlash against the White Stripes began when the whole brother/sister shtick turned out to be an ex-husband/ex-wife shtick and started to overshadow the Stripes music. The backlash was in full effect when this CD debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard charts this spring. Most of the self-consciously indie folks jumped ship at the first whiff of popularity and left the band for the masses.
Which is not a bad deal at all. The band is worth the effort and if their popularity is a turnoff for the hipsters then so be it. The music itself kicks off with something that you usually don’t associate with their music, a bass line. The ominous groove that kicks off “Seven Nation Army” certainly sets the tone for an album that examines many emotional tones. The band augments their sound a few other times as well with multi-tracked guitars and the multi tracked vocals of “There’s No Home For You Here.”
Meg White takes center stage in a Mo Tucker like cameo on “Cold Cold Night” and “It’s True That We Love One Another” but the record truly hits its stride with the seven minute bluesy centerpiece “Ball and Biscuit.” The Stripes may have left their direct homages to the blues behind but the influence is still strong. B & B is a grinding double-entendre blues that features some of Jack’s most explosive guitar work and vocals.
All in all, it’s a fine album. Mixing the blasting garage rock they are famous for with blues, ballads and even folk influences, the Stripes have come into their own as one of the finest straight-ahead rock bands of the day.
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