When I brought the White Stripes' Elephant
earlier this year, I didn't know what I was getting into. Was I getting into indie-gold? Was I getting into crap? I had no idea. After repeated listens, I still have no idea if I like this album or if I merely shrug it off as another mistake. Therefore, I will write my review from an extremely objective standpoint, and try to look at the album for what it is. An ecclectic, but inconsistent effort from Detroit Rock Duo: The White Stripes.
The White Stripes
When one considers the White Stripes, one can think of two things: A creepy garage band with little musical talent or a great band using very little to accomplish so much. The White Stripes 4th effort, Elephant
, is a mesh ex-spouses (A-hem "Siblings") Jack and Meg White put together to try to reach a broader fan base. They succeeded with catchy singles, but their diehard fans thought they had sold out when Jack White played the big single and other songs with a *gasp!* bass guitar. For myself, The White Stripes' Elephant
is a consistent effort, although fair in quality the whole way through. Mostly riding on some great songs of different genres and Jack's incredible musicianship, Elephant
is a fun listen, although at times it can be tedious.
From beginning to end, singer/guitarist/bassist/everything-except-drums-ist Jack White orders our attention with a voice born to preach the white-boy blues. Opening with the big single Seven Nation Army
, Jack White lets you know you'll be in for a ride. Working with one catchy as hell bass-line and some terrifyingly minimalistic drumming, the opening track sets the standard Jack wants Elephant to be at. Going in a more pop-oriented direction, many songs work incredibly well with a catchy riff and Jack un-melodically crooning, at times menacingly so into his microphone. Tracks like Black Math
and I Just Don't Know What To Do With Msself
work in devious ways to command the respect of the listener. Black Math uses a rushed riff and some interesting howls by Jack to command attention. While it doesn't have the melodic value that Seven Nation Army has, it exposes some more raw garage rock to the White family. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
works to be a raw killer track, and nearly succeeds. It's soft crooning by Jack at the immediate beginning is not to be mistaken for a slow White Stripes track. It soons jumps into an explosion of a chorus, with Jack's cries "Like A Summer Rose!" While Jack's simple rhymes and shouts dont make the song more than occasionally listenable. From the get-go, the pop aspect of The White Stripes is displayed for all the world to see.
One of the great things about Elephant
is that it's an ecclectic mix of many different music styles. You have your pop rock (Seven Nation Army, The Hardest Button To Button
), punk rock (Black Math), blues (The incredible Ball And A Biscuit
), folk (It's True That We Love One Another
), smooth jazz (In The Cold, Cold Night
) , even a Burt Bacharach cover. While this melting pot of music comes with mixed results, it does say something about the White Stripes ability to play more than one thing. This is a statement about Jack White's songwriting. To be able to effectively write in different styles is like trying to effectively speak in different languages. You need to study what you're speaking (or singing, in this case), listen to other people do it for a long time, and go through a lot of mistakes before you get it right. While it's apparent the Stripes skipped over a couple of steps when attempting to delve into some styles (In The Cold Cold Night
, for example is Meg White merely attempting to croon to prove she has talent, but the world still knows she doesn't.), they usually succeed at smoothly executing this transition.
The Music Quality of Elephant
is excellent. You have Jack White, an amazing musician in many different respects. First off he's a fantastic guitarist, and that's gathered simply by listening to his ingenius guitar solos on the aforementioned 7 minutes long A Ball And A Biscuit
. For any guitarist of any genre, one has to just sit back and love hearing him hit the high notes on the upper reaches of the fret board. For bassists, it's imperetive you hear his excellent pounding bass line in The Hardest Button To Button
and the now world famous one in Seven Nation Army
. Their simplicity is what makes them so terrificc for the song they are in. At least on bass, Jack never shows off like he does on guitar. As a vocalist in my mind, he leaves a bit to be desired, because I enjoy melodic singing. However fans of indie rock and the blues, classic rock, all that jazz will probably like Jack White's crooninig. And for the drummers you have Meg White.... Ok so if you are a guitarist or bassist, the White Stripes Elephant
is a great example of musicianship, an effort most musicians can like not for the catchy songs, but for the incredible work being done behind them.
When looking at Elephant
, one must understand that this is not your regular old pop record. One may get the impression after Seven Nation Army
that Elephant will be filled with new and sellout pop-rock songs. Thankfully for the true music fans, that is not the case. Elephant
is a standard being set for the Detroit duo, as Get Behind Me Satan was to this. I found the song quality to be inconsistent and at times tedious to get through, however great musicianship by Jack White, a few stunning highlights, and many different styles of music to keep the pace a-changin make Elephant
a pretty good pickup for anyone looking for some good indie-rock.
Seven Nation Army
Ball And A Biscuit
The Hardest Button To Button
A melting pot of styles
At times a boring listen
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*Note, I apologize for my lack of reviews lately, I've had to go through surgery, Thanksgiving Vacation, and school on top of that, that I havent had the time. Enjoy