The White Stripes
White Blood Cells


4.5
superb

Review

by Med57 EMERITUS
January 14th, 2005 | 44 replies | 27,643 views


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist


Released: 2001 (XI)

Band: Jack White-Guitars, Vocals, Piano
Meg White-Drums, Backing Vocals

As many of you know now, The White Stripes consist of two people believed to be brother and sister who originate from the American city of Detroit. This album is their third, but marks the point when they hit the mainstream, with singles such as Fell In Love With A Girl and Hotel Yorba. This is probably my second favourite White Stripes album after the international bestseller Elephant, which was released last year to huge critical acclaim.

The Review

1. Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground-A track that opens with what sounds like the band going to their instruments, before Jack's trademark squealing guitar comes in. As with all their songs, the drumming is simple, with there being several louder bits featuring crash cymbals and Jack's guitar, interspersed with quieter bits where Jack sings and Meg takes a back seat. This is a punchy song that is incredibly similar to There's no home for you here on Elephant. 5/5

2. Hotel Yorba-A vaguely "folksy" guitar intro starts off this song, before Jack's understated vocals come in. This song has a fast tempo, and has immense energy. Again, Meg's drumming features loudly in the chorus but a simple interlude where some strummed chords and the hi-hats lead into the final chorus of the song. An undoubted highlight of the album. 5/5

3. I'm Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman-This begins with Jack's plaintive vocals, and follows a fairly simple structure throughout, which is typical of the band's nature, as even the most casual fan will know. Jack's vocals change in tone, becoming louder and more soft in turns. Like many of their other songs, this is a love song, which works very well. 4.5/5

4. Fell In Love With A Girl-This is the song you are most likely to have heard from the album. With an exceptional video, which features the band symbolised as Lego pieces, the song starts fiercely with a guitar part, before Meg's crash cymbals come in. Jack has some particularly frenetic lyrics and vocals here which almost get carried away by the speed and energy of the song. Put simply, brilliant. 5/5

5. Expecting-A very simple and powerful guitar riff kicks this off, with Jack's shrieked vocals mirroring the tone of the guitar, which quietens down before storming back up into the mix. The tortured tone of his voice reminds me a bit of their cover of I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, but this is a song that is unlikely to convert non-fans. 4/5

6. Little Room-Beginning with a pounding drumbeat by Meg, this consists solely of this beat with Jack initially singing but then making a series of noises. It sounds better than my description, but this gets 3/5. Bear in mind that I'm writing this largely for people who don't love the band. If you do, but don't own this album, you'll probably like this.

7. The Union Forever-This is a very mournful, sinister track, with a guitar part in what I think is a minor key. Jack's vocals sound anguished, although occasional, quicker, louder interludes break up the tempo. The repeated screams of "It Can't Be Love" tell you everything you need to know about the lyrics, before a bizzare twist which is simply Jack speaking over Meg banging together the drumsticks. The previous part of the song then returns. A different sound to the album, but one that is still good. 4/5

8. The Same Boy You've Always Known-More upbeat, and of a slower tempo than other tracks. Jack has some calmer vocals as well, which bring out the nature of this surprisingly pretty love song. I can imagine this being one of the songs that fuels the debate over the precise nature of The White Stripes's relationship. 4.5/5

9. We're Gonna Be Friends-Similar to the previous track, only even calmer, with Jack's vocals sounding cloyingand rather beautiful. This seems sung to a schoolfriend being all about relationships in school and later on. A perfectly nice track, but one without a great deal going on. The layered guitars work well too. 4/5

10. Offend In Every Way-Back to the "normal" White Stripes sound, and probably another highlight of the album for me. The guitar seems higher in the mix for this song, with Meg's thumping taking a backseat, and some of the best lyrics on the album come out, with Jack singing about the pressure of expectation. One of the better guitar parts on the album as well, which slows down towards the end, before ending. 5/5

11. I Think I Smell A Rat -A guitar sounding rather stereotypically Middle Eastern starts this track, before Jack's slightly sinister vocals come in. This seems to be about the insincerity of children (my interpretation), talking about "little kids". Again, a different style for the band, but rather an effective one. 4/5

12. Aluminium-An instrumental, with distorted guitars providing feedback, while Jack screams over the top. A definite weak point of the album. 2/5

13. I Can't Wait-Good opening that slightly recalls the guitar part of Nirvana's Heart Shaped Box to me. That's as far as the comparison goes though, with Jack asking, "Who do you think you're messing with girl?", and almost taunting an ex-lover. This is the longest song on the album, and another good point of it, with a very strong chorus, which shines due to the decreased tempo of the song. 4.5/5

14. Now Mary -A very good song, which seems to have a breezy air, although being the White Stripes this is punctuated by sudden louder moments. Anyone who knows their cover of I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself will know what I mean. This seems a bittersweet song, which is re-inforced by it seemingly being directed at a woman left after a troubled relationship. 4/5

15. I Can Learn-An odd song, with alternate sections of quieter music and singing followed by louder sections (particularly notable at the beginning). The drumming particularly helps here, with variety in tone backing up Jack's voice. This is a lonely song, looking back at a failed relationship, which also particularly suits Jack's yowling voice. 4.5/5

16. This Protector-A piano led song, with Meg on vocals , initially almost inaudible, before Jack joins her. This sounds possibly like a band such as Coldplay more than anything else, albiet with Meg and Jack bringing their own style. There is no other instrument than piano on this track, bringing the album to a rather beautiful close, drenched in cords. Although very different from any normal White Stripes track. I love this. 5/5

For most other bands, this would be the peak of their achievement, but such was the brilliance of Elephant, that this was forced into second place on my list of White Stripes albums. One of the most familiar criticisms I hear of this band is the simplicity of their instrument, but while this is true, it merely serves to make their songs, in my opinion, even better than they would be with more technical playing, by not going over the top, and keeping their sound stripped down. The short nature of these songs, with none approaching the 4 minute mark also helps this. I can honestly recommend this album as being a case where the hype is justified. Overall rating: 4.5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
YDload
August 3rd 2004



1207 Comments


Good review, but I still don't like them that much. The only good thing about them is that Jack White can improvise the hell out of a guitar with a slide when they play live (like at the Grammys or on Conan).

By the way, they're ex-husband and wife.

Iai
Emeritus
August 3rd 2004



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really liked this album. I cannot STAND Elephant though. I hated all the singles, listened to it anyway because of the hype, and only liked Hypnotize (I think) and In The Cold Cold Night. The rest of it sucked, horribly. Still, this album gets my vote. Good review - my personal favourites are The Union Forever, I Think I Smell A Rat, and especially I Can't Wait. It reminds me of Dylan.

Med57
Moderator
August 4th 2004



1001 Comments


[QUOTE=YDload]Good review, but I still don't like them that much. The only good thing about them is that Jack White can improvise the hell out of a guitar with a slide when they play live (like at the Grammys or on Conan).

By the way, they're ex-husband and wife.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, I wasn't sure about the exact relationship. So much stuff gets talked about the relationship that I get confused.

Tapeworm
August 4th 2004



118 Comments


I didn't agree with a fair few bits of that review, but it was pretty good overall. I really don't like 'Elephant' much at all, and 'De Stijl' is my favourite Stripes record.

mexicanfloydian
August 4th 2004



165 Comments


Good review.
I prefer this album over elephant.

Dark Hero
August 4th 2004



160 Comments


Good review. I've been waiting for this CD to get reviewed.

lifes_a_fallacy
August 5th 2004



7 Comments


I never can bring myself to listen to this album all of the way through. In spite of the shortness of each track, i'm bored out of my mind usually.

And trust me - i listen to a good deal of boring music without trouble.

Just something about the White Stripes tends not to do it for me.

owlandtree
August 7th 2004



47 Comments


Hmmm..scratch, scratch..I still don't know what to think of the White Stripes. True, they are a simple catchy-tune type of outfit, so no suprises there. I like the idea of what they are doing with the 2-piece thing. I am a little frustrated by the fact that out of all of the deserving, talented, hardworking band's and musicians that work, play and live in and around Detroit (like myself and hundreds of others), who have cut their teeth long before white stripes made it out of the "Wooden Nickel, underground scene", act's like the white stripes, Eminem and Kid Rock seem to be the one's who have recieved notice and record deals. Image !! oh, yeah!
I suppose that I cannot give a truly objective opinion on this act, for I have scene, heard and played with many more deserving musicians who still work the day job and grind the night away in small venues here in Detroit. In short; the big business, trend-setting-suit-and-tie-marketing-morons who run the airwaves and MTV spoon-fed media trash television still know nothing about music!
2outta5 :confused:

the white stripes
August 7th 2004



1 Comments


if you want to here them at there best get there first cd.

Charlie No.2
January 18th 2006



2 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I Love the white Stripes they are a great band who diversify rock. This album is their Second best after De Stijl

Starfcker
February 8th 2006



32 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I haven't listened to this one for a while now...

But for now, ill give it a 4.5... Little Room is one of the best FILLER tracks ever... lol :-)

"Freshly Baked"
March 11th 2006



583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really like aluminium that shocked me when med57 said it was the low point.

Offend in every way is my theme song, yo!

ImTheFloor
March 12th 2006



59 Comments


I love the Stripes, but after many listens, I just can't get into this album at all. I don't know why. It gets a bit monotonous.

tru_metallica_fan
March 27th 2006



15 Comments


man i thought everybody knew that they were married. you dont have the right to write this review if u dont know that! but neway this album rocks. my fav song is.........i dunno lol. but i think i smell a rat is really fun to play

The Jungler
March 27th 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

He didn't say that they were brother and sister. Only that they were at one time believed to be brother and sister. And I'm glad he reviewed it even if he didn't know they were married.

jhed13
April 10th 2006



32 Comments


theyre divorced

f_u_c_t
May 1st 2006



1406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^ lol

Muisee
June 28th 2006



679 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

2nd best stripes album IMO, Elephant being their best. Good review.

The Sludge
June 28th 2006



2169 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I still cant get that damn Hotel Yorba song out of my head. Its taken capture of my brain and telling me to sing a long every time I hear it.
Someone please shoot me.

midnite_matinee
October 23rd 2006



18 Comments


I'd have to say there best is Get Behind Me Satan but thats coming froma person who doesn't like the whole garage sound that much. Although i did love White Blood Cells.
Pretty much my favorite band ever!



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