Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The White Stripes - Icky Thump

The White Stripes
Icky Thump
Warner/Third Man 2007

It was 7am, and I decided to listen to Icky Thump for the first time. Let me stress to all: this is not an album to listen to while your neighbours are still asleep! Maybe this is true for all of The White Stripes albums. Maybe it’s Meg’s persistent drumming, or Jack’s electrically charged guitar solos. Whatever it is, your stereo needs to be turned up. And loud!

As a whole, this is a great record with several songs that grab you by the throat. The title track, for example, is definitely one of them. Then, it goes into what I can only compare with something that could be featured in a film from the 70’s staring Burt Reynolds. (This could also be my overly active imagination here, so bare with me!)

After the visions of bad sideburns and aviator shades wears off, the album goes into full blown rock mode. Tracks like ‘300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues’, ‘Conquest’, ‘Bone Broke’ and ‘Catch Hell Blues’ really stand out and get stuck in your head the way that ‘Seven Nation Army’ did from their 2003 release Elephant. For the most part, this pace and energy are carried out, though there are things about the record that I found a bit hard to digest at first. I wasn’t too sure that bagpipes could work on a rock album (at least not since House of Pain did it, surely…?), but somehow, ‘Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn’ seems to work perfectly. Since Jack quit smoking, his vocal range has improved. Meg’s drumming is still exactly the same. This isn’t to say that’s a bad thing necessarily. It’s part of their charm. It’s loud and to the point, and that’s what works. ‘A Martyr For My Love For You’ is slightly different from the other tracks, and almost feels a little bit sweet. There are quiet acoustic moments, and dare I say … crooning.

The album sits nicely on my musical pallet, and I have very few complaints. It’s refreshing to hear a new album from the pair after their two year break. Nobody does it like The White Stripes, and to be honest, I don’t think that anybody ever will. They’re gritty, dirty, sexy, raw and they make my heart beat a little bit faster. Their music makes me wish I was watching them play in a grungy garage in the middle of a forgotten city, sweating it out with the best of them.

This is definitely an album that would be a good place to start, if you’ve never listened to The White Stripes. It’s a fully developed album that encompasses everything from acoustic, stripped down songs, loud, heavy rock songs, and even a little bit of mariachi thrown into the mix. Just take my simple advice: do not listen to this until the sun’s been up for at least a few hours!

-Tiffany Fosberry

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