The White Stripes
Icky Thump


3.5
great

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
June 18th, 2007 | 83 replies | 25,878 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A successful return to the band's roots after the self-indulgent Get Behind Me Satan. Just don't mention Jack's Scottish heritage.

As soon as I decided to sit down and have a listen to this, my housemate - who is fond of blasting awful NME rock very loudly - put on White Blood Cells so loudly that, even at full volume, I couldn't hear my newly-acquired Pickering Pick album coming out of my speakers any more. I've been putting up with this all year, so it's not a source of anger for me any more. Instead, I tuned in, and it struck me how odd it was for me to hear a White Stripes album and enjoy it. Ever since the massively disappointing (to me, at least) Elephant, this band has only been enjoyable to me in short fits and spurts. "Blue Orchid" was awesome, "My Doorbell" awful, and so on. But here was a White Stripes that I could enjoy - stripped back, catchy, humourous.

"Icky Thump", the first single, just sums all that post-Elephant inconsistency up. Damn good riff, some great lyrics (it's hard not to get a kick out of Jack's 'You're all immigrants too!' rant) - this should be a great song, but for some reason, Jack White slaps a buttload of ugly, pointless guitar and amateurish clavioline all over it, in what seems like an insane attempt to totally ruin it. It's growing on me, admittedly, but I still can't help listening to this track without thinking what a God-awful mess it all is.

Thing is, I realy want to like the Stripes. The Detroit garage rock scene they came from is one I'm loving the more I find out about it (The Detroit Cobras haven't been out of rotation on Planet Iai for at least 3 weeks), and although I quickly got bored of the scene they were made out to be a part of (see The Vines, The Hives, The Strokes, Kings of Leon, and whoever else my housemate likes), they've always seemed to have something that sets them apart, and they always looked the most likely to make a career out of their music. I'm probably TOO willing to embrace them, if anything, which makes things like "Icky Thump" so frustrating. This should be amazing, and thanks to whoever the dumb-ass is that suggested they should make the solos sound like Del Shannon playing "Runaway" backwards, it's not.

Still, no such problems crop up again for a while. The Racontuers-esque "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)" is excellent, a country-fuelled blast of classic rock that succeeds on every level, and serves as further proof that White's lyrics are just getting better with time, and have taken a giant leap forward here. The epic, Muse-esque "Conquest" (a Patti Page cover) boasts a horn section, and is far more effective in its experimentation than just about anything on Get Behind Me, Satan, as well as being a much better cover version than their take on "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself". "Bone Broke" could easily have slotted onto White Blood Cells, except for the lead guitar, which, just like the solo on "Icky Thump", is juttering, nasal, and not a million miles away from Fred Durst's attempts at shredding. Between all that is the more subdued "300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues", which isn't spectacular, but is certainly good enough. So far so good.

But then, for whatever mental reason, the Stripes decide that they're going to settle down in Scotland for a while. There's nothing especially wrong with the mandolin and bagpipe-led "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn" per se, but it's incredibly cliche, and ill-fitting for both the band and album. "St. Andrew (This Battle Is In The Air)" continues the theme, except this time Meg takes spoken-word vocals, and Jack screeches all over the Celtic melody with a load of noisy guitar licks. It's such a bizzare interlude, and frankly, it's crap. Why the hell are these two songs here? Again, the Stripes frustrate their prospective fan. And things were going so well!

"Little Cream Soda" gets things back on track in style - this is classic White Stripes, sporting a lyric spiritually similar to "Little Room" and guitar parts that suggests Jimi Hendrix covering "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground". Although the vocals probably could have done with being more melodic, it's hard not to caught up amdist the pyrotechnic blues riffs Jack conjures here. Alongside "You Don't Know What Love Is", it's a definite highlight.

There's but one more disruption to the album's flow. "Rag and Bone" sees both Meg and Jack accosting somebody, rifling through their belongings trying to find out what they're allowed to steal. Although this is again slightly too odd to be a highlight, it's nice to know their sense of humour hasn't gone too far astray. But, for that, we have two more keepers. The slide-guitar showcase "Catch Hell Blues" is a rare thing on a White Stripes album - a damn good track stuffed at the back end of the album. The other is "A Martyr For My Love For You", which is unusually dark for the band, its acoustic intro a slight shock to the system after 8 tracks of amped-up blues (and two of Celtic nonsense). Yet, it unfolds, with an organ included in the mix, meshing perfectly into their sound. It may not quite be the Stripes operating at full speed, but they're at least in 4th gear.

So, the story of me grappling with the White Stripes discography continues with an unexpected bullseye. I'm delighted to report that Icky Thump, despite the presence of some simply insane over-indulgence, is a great album. Right now I'd confidently place this on a par with White Blood Cells, which means that for now, I'm back on the bandwagon. After two records I didn't care for in the slightest, I'm a card-carrying White Stripes fan again. Woo!



Recent reviews by this author
Krzysztof Penderecki and Jonny Greenwood Krzysztof Penderecki / Jonny GreenwoodLana Del Rey Paradise
Scott Walker Bish BoschEmilie Autumn Fight Like A Girl
Susanne Sundfor The Silicone VeilPepe Deluxe Queen of the Wave
user ratings (979)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
londoncalling457
June 18th 2007


2603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review man. Icky Thump is great, but I agree that the clavioline is a bit overdone. Anyway, this is one of my favorite albums at the moment and definitely my favorite of '07 so far.

The Jungler
June 18th 2007


4827 Comments


I'm looking forward to this. I, for one, didn't mind their last album.
Good job on the review.

tribestros
June 18th 2007


918 Comments


I listened to it and can only tolerate a few songs. A review (2.5) will result tomorrow.

(just to let everyone know)

Iai
Emeritus
June 18th 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Role reversal much?

tribestros
June 18th 2007


918 Comments


If you gave it a 5 and I was going to get a 1.5 then it'd be a role reversal.

Mikesn
Emeritus
June 18th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Never heard White Stripes before, but I was interested in checking this out. Good review.

Iai
Emeritus
June 18th 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nah, I figure we've probably both had enough of being slated for our opinions.

Yo Mike, give this a 3 and we'll have a full set.This Message Edited On 06.18.07

tribestros
June 18th 2007


918 Comments


LOL

You're not kidding.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
June 18th 2007


3767 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome review, but I was thinking that stuff like Prickly Thorn/At. Andrew, Rag and Bone, etc, gave the album some great variation rather than disrupted the music. I was writing an intro to this last night, but it just wasn't coming out right - it's probably one of the best albums of the year so far, and I've never liked anything else the Stripes have done except for their first album.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Iai
Emeritus
June 18th 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There's a thin line between doing one or the other, I'll grant you, but the two Celtic tracks really are the sound of the plot going entirely AWOL. "Rag And Bone" is much better than that - I was probably too harsh lumping it in as a disruption, but by that point in the record I was nervously expecting some more ridiculous experiments.

El_Goodo
June 18th 2007


1008 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm getting this tomorrow and I'm excited I enjoyed Icky Thump and I loved You Don't Know What Love Is. And I've loved every album so far...including Get Behind Me Satan... Forever for her is one of my favorite stripes tracks.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2007


15737 Comments


I love the song Icky Thump. Can we get a better album picture, the one we have now sucks, it's all pixilated.

Also, I must say, reading your review, I know what the album sounds like. I read Rolling Stone's review yesterday and didn't know jack shit about what the album sounded like, just a lot of prattling on about random snippets of noise.This Message Edited On 06.18.07

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

samthebassman
June 19th 2007


2164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I havent given this a thorough listen yet, great review.

AlienEater
June 19th 2007


716 Comments


White Stripes suck

Voodoo_Child70
June 19th 2007


7 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am somewhat biased being Scottish myself but I really enjoy Prickly Thorn and St. Andrew. The reviewer claimed they were cliched but there are many, many actual Scottish ballads that are far more cliched than these two, believe it or not. They're a nice change of pace and the chorus on Prickly Thorn is unexpectedy catchy!

Rag and Bone is great too, the riff is catchy as hell. Overall this has alot more going for it than Get Behind Me Satan, they seem to be having alot more fun with their music!

Oblivioncry
June 19th 2007


601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

its the 3rd album this year that doesn't disappoint.

after first 2 listen i went to kitchen and after 10 minutes or so i realized i was humming the melody of 'Pickly thorn'^^

ehm anyway: really good reviewThis Message Edited On 06.19.07

Iai
Emeritus
June 19th 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My girlfriend plays violin in a few folk bands, and does a lot of Celtic/Gaelic stuff. That's probably why it all sounds so cliche to me.

Oddsen
June 19th 2007


1127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can't wait to get this. Icky Thump is a really cool song and i'm sure this will end up better than the last release.
Did you really like Blue Orchid that much when it came out? It's such a repetitive song.

Iai
Emeritus
June 19th 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I think it's one of their best singles. It's just dumb and fun.

TheStarclassicTreatment
June 19th 2007


2910 Comments


Icky Thump reminds me of 'Lazy' by Depp Purple
Would have been a great song, had it not went totally overboard in an attempt to be prog.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy