There's no doubt that the turn of the century marked an outburst of garage-rock. You had bands like the Strokes, the Vines, the Hives, and most importantly, the White Stripes. The thing that makes the Stripes the most unique of all of the bands listed above is that there are only two
members, both dressed up in white and red clothes, like two human peppermints. Their sound was even more simple and bare than the other bands, a result of just guitar and drums. Over all of it, Jack White yelps out somewhat odd, but earnest lyrics that are hardly inaudible most of the time. They later became huge after the release of White Blood Cells
, and are now one of the most recognizeable bands to come up in this past century. The White Stripes
was their first album, released in 1999.
The White Stripes
, as stated earlier, is a very raw, bare-bones album, with no fringe to the songs at all. Jack White's guitar playing is loud, raunchy, reverb-soaked, and metallic, while Meg White's drumming is amazingly simple, almost like a cave-woman version of Ringo Starr, but a hell of a lot louder and thumping. Jack sings with reckless abandon, sometimes yelping over the garage-rock chaos, sometimes singing quietly. Though his voice tends to be a bit peculiar in some areas, it actually sounds like he means what he's singing, even if you can't quite exactly understand what he's singing. It all adds up to be a wonderful, but sometimes grueling experience.
The songs represented here are mostly a showcase for Jack, while Meg takes the backseat and thumps away. There is the wonderful Robert Johnson cover of "Stop Breakin' Down," with its somewhat peculiar slide lick repeated throughout. There is also the fine cover of Bob Dylan's "One More Cup of Cofee" represented here. "Wasting My Life" is an earnest, somewhat slow song showcasing some of Jack's guitar playing, in its beautiful simplicity, and "Broken Bricks" is a hyperactive, slam-dance-inducing romp through garage-rock Hell, and that's all there is to it. "St. James Infirmary" is undoubtedly the best song here, and is obviously the most unique. The song is driven by piano, the first time it appears on the album, and has an almost foreign feel to it.
This album is nowhere near perfect, though. Most of the songs run along the same sound and drum beats, which tends to become extremely boring by the middle of the album. The guitar tones are all very sharp, with little variety throughout the whole album. Songs like "The Big Three Killed My Baby" and "Astro" are dreadfully boring and irritating, with Jack yelping overtop. There are only a few instances when you could say that there is some variety on the album, and those are few and far between to be able to make the album more rewarding to listen to. The album goes on longer than it really should, 17 tracks in around 43 minutes, and it just becomes a chore to listen to the album as a whole. If the album were cut down by a few tracks, it would have been a far more excellent listen.