The White Stripes

The White Stripes’ fifth album is a collision of authenticity and progress. On the one hand, tracks such as “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)” and the hayloft square dance “Little Ghost” proudly display the blue-collar grit the duo perfected on four previous albums — discs soaked in Nashville heartache and vintage Victrola blues. On the other hand, Jack and Meg White aim Satan at the rockers whose version of the blues spins on classic-rock stations, chasing after Mick Jagger posturing instead of Muddy Waters picking. This is no more evident than on first single “Blue Orchid,” a monstrous cyclone of falsetto vocals and cock-rocking guitars, or “Red Rain,” in which Jack White goes all Aladdin Sane with Bowiesque strangled yowls and wham-glam riffs. The pair’s lofty goals show what a progression Satan is personally — it’s less a two-dimensional music-history lesson than a colorful deconstruction of the White Stripes’ own past. Fortunately, progressive flourishes like the belches of random noise and marimba pirouettes of “The Nurse” prevent the album’s conventions from sounding stale, even though its notes are all sepia-toned.

Categories: Music