Friday, April 06, 2007

White Stripes Album Details

Jack and Meg have emerged with their sixth album, their first for Warner Bros. (which has also taken on the band’s Third Man imprint) and, most importantly, their first with bagpipes. Those are a couple of the surprises on the ultimately straightforward Icky Thump, which will see daylight in June. CMJ was treated to a special advance listen of the 13-track record, which was recorded in a super-long (at least for the Stripes) three-week session in a super-modern studio (for the first time) and clocks in at a super-sized (relatively speaking) 48 minutes.

As long as the Stripes continue their minimalist-duo tradition, their formula for lo-fi blues-punk won't so much continually expand as it will vary ever-so slightly and then snap back to basics. Less ornate and spacious (i.e., no piano whatsoever) than Get Behind Me Satan, Icky (the title's a bastardization of an English term that connotes excitement) isn't exactly De Stijl either. Although the second track, "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)," is a ferocious melodic rocker not dissimilar from another song with parantheticals, "You’re Pretty Good Looking (For A Girl)." Elsewhere, things jump around from the wild solos of the title track and "Little Cream Soda" (which is more or less no-bullshit garage-metal) to the strange, mariachi-esque madness of "Conquest." (Remember in Election, when that crazy nature call would play when Reese Witherspoon got that wild look in her eye? Think that, but with guitars and horns.) And naturally, as the album draws to its close, we get the more traditional acoustic blues of "Effect And Cause," which sounds like the grandchild of the Stones' "Dead Flowers" (with G 'N R's "Used To Love Her" perhaps being the latter's initial offspring) and "Catch Hell Blues," which lives up to its name by smashing slide-guitar up against a vigorous punk rock chord progression. In between, they even get a little Waterboys on us with the Gaelic jaunt of "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn."

Icky is another step in a semi-lateral direction for a band that commendably sticks to its humble guns, despite the obvious juxtaposition of being privy to bigger budgets and getting further removed from the true garaginess of their roots. It's very possible that, despite Jack's incredible talent as a musician and songwriter, the Stripes' routine could wear thin if they don't eventually give in to something drastically outside of their comfortable red-and-black box. But for now, there's just enough thump and careful creative leaps in these tunes to keep their Detroit motor runnin'.

Tracklist For Icky Thump:
01. Icky Thump
02. You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)
03. 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues
04. Conquest
05. Bone Broke
06. Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn
07. St. Andrew (This Battle Is In The Air)
08. Little Cream Soda
09. Rag And Bone
10. I'm Slowly Turning Into You
11. A Martyr For My Love For You
12. Catch Hell Blues
13. Effect And Cause



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