ISSUE #8 FEB 06

T Elshaw

The White Stripes
"The White Stripes"

24th March 2004
reviewer: T Elshaw
rating: 4 out of 5
published by: XL Records
released: 26th November 2001
  1. Jimmy The Exploder
  2. Stop Breaking Down
  3. The Big 3 Killed My Baby
  4. Suzy Lee
  5. Sugar Never Tasted So Good
  6. Wasting My Time
  7. Cannon
  8. Astro
  9. Broken Bricks
  10. When I Hear My Name
  11. Do
  12. Screwdriver
  13. One More Cup Of Coffee
  14. Little People
  15. Slicker Drips
  16. St. James Infirmary Blues
  17. I Fought Piranhas

Less is more; at least with The White Stripes it is - You might think that a band with only two members would be struggling to produce high quality music, and you'd be almost right. However, this is supposed to be music stripped down to the bare essentials: a guitar, drum-kit, and vocals combined to create catchy, and intricate songs, while maintaining a minimalist retro feel.

From the opening track "Jimmy The Exploder" you know straight away that Jack White is an excellent guitarist (He almost sounds like Hendrix. Yes, really). Meg on the other hand is not exactly the best drummer in the world and often misses out beats, and her drumming is often weak. Somehow this scrappy drumming fits well with Jack's lo-fi guitar work and adds a lot of character to the White Stripes' characteristic retro rock/blues sound.

Jack White has the ability to almost make his guitar sing, as if it were almost a third member of the band. Some of his guitar work is absolutely amazing, with an almost Hendrix-esque level of guitar mastery ranging from vicious riffs to smooth blues-style slide guitar and everything in-between, to produce a unique yet familiar sound.

The album is fantastic and no two songs sound the same: there are hard rock guitar-heavy songs like "Jimmy The Exploder", "Screwdriver" and "Broken Bricks"; blues-type ballads (far better than it sounds) like "Suzy Lee" and "One More Cup Of Coffee"; to stranger songs like "St James Infirmary Blues" and "Little People".

The only real problem with this album is a lack of length in a lot of the songs - most are under 3 minutes long, which is a bit disapointing really. But when the songs are this good it's hard to let the faults put you off.

This is an excellent album, with a few faults, but one that is worth every penny.