The White Stripes
Elephant


3.5
great

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
December 3rd, 2005 | 120 replies | 35,271 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


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: Elephant

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.

Overall

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.

Recommended Tracks

Seven Nation Army
Ball And A Biscuit
The Hardest Button To Button

Pros

Great Guitar
A melting pot of styles
Jack White

Cons

Drums?
At times a boring listen
Meg White.

Please Rate and Reply


*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



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Comments:Add a Comment 
masada
December 3rd 2005



2733 Comments


He plays the "Seven Nation Army" line on guitar.

[quote=Review]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[/quote] I'm pretty sure those really high notes are a result of an octave pedal.

Solid review.

BringHomeTheBacon
December 3rd 2005



248 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review. I don't listen to this often but there are some really standout songs- Black Math, There's no Home for you Here, Hardest button to button.

Storm In A Teacup
December 3rd 2005



12688 Comments


Good review, it's about time you had another one Official, I was getting lonely. :p

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
December 3rd 2005



15693 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, I couldnt let you get comfortable Kripes.

Sorry if this review isnt up to my usual standards, I'm trying to cut down on length and make it like the big guns' reviews.

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins® [AMDISCS]

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2005



15693 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's not conformity it's becoming one of the elite.

Neway I didnt really dissect this album like I have my other ones. Therefore, I suppose I didnt have too much to say.

More comments are appreciated.This Message Edited On 12.04.05

goblue1098
December 4th 2005



61 Comments


one of the best records in 03, IMO. jack white is pretty much amazing


Electric City
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2005



15693 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I dont know I wouldnt say that. It hurts a little bit, many of the songs have no melodic value whatsoever.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2005



15693 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you, kind sir.

For White Stripes fans, what should I get next, White Blood Cells or GBMS?

Jawaharal
December 4th 2005



1832 Comments


my friend somehow thinks that he is tr00 indie because he listens to this band.

good review.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2005



15693 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh yeah these guys are "real indie". Besides their multiplatinum albums, u cant get more indie than these guys.

cough

masada
December 4th 2005



2733 Comments


Review White Blood Cells.

masada
December 4th 2005



2733 Comments


Review White Blood Cells.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2005



15693 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well I'll have to buy it first, I mean as a good buy for my next White Stripes Album.

Zebra
Moderator
December 4th 2005



2647 Comments


I really dislike the White Stripes. I know a lot of people say this just because it's cool to hate this band but honestly I just don't think their music is any good.

Good review as usual.

innerdark
December 22nd 2005



749 Comments


GBMS sucks, get white blood cells


Electric City
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2005



15693 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

really? Ok cool. I thought GBMS was their best supposedly, but the consensus seems to be WBC

masada
December 22nd 2005



2733 Comments


Get Behind Me Satan is a hundred times better than White Blood Cells, which is basically the same thing as their first four albums.

Don't listen to them.This Message Edited On 12.22.05

Bonzo17
December 28th 2005



92 Comments


i reckon this one is their bestalbum, girl you have no faith in meidicine and hardest button to button are the good tracks, well written though, shows your opinion boldly

Tastylicks
February 4th 2006



6 Comments


Good review. I love this album...it is one of the white stripes greatest. (besides "white blood cells")

Starfcker
February 8th 2006



32 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is their masterpeice (their debut comes in at a close second). Absoulutely stunning.



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