Tuesday, June 26, 2007

very icky... as in sick... in a good way

I think this may be my first post by request. J.R. emailed me and admonished me for not doing a review of the new White Stripes album. Admon taken. Here we go. And begin.

As usual, I'll just be doing it by track listing.

1. Icky Thump
We've all heard this one, so we know how good it is. If you're reading this right now and haven't actually heard it, I'm really surprised. Who are you? How did you discover my blog? Please comment. Anyway, I heard Jack used a synthesizer for some of that weird trilly instrumental work between verses. That was strange to type. Even though I love synth more than anybody in the world, it's the last thing any real White Stripes fan would expect from them. I guess it helps to know that it's some kind of relic synthesizer from the 40s. I suppose it's sort of a dream come true for me: White Stripes AND synths. Maybe next year Depeche Mode will go all acoustic. Oh well, who can even tell it's a synthesizer; and more importantly, the sound isn't heard on subsequent songs anyway. The Stripes have a tendancy to do that. When "Blue Orchid" came out I was ecstatic about the sound. It was the first track on the last album, but the rest of the cd was completely different. Ok, enough about the song everybody should have heard by now anyway.

2. You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)
Verrrry Country. Jack lives in Nashville now apparently and you can hear it on this album. He seems a bit obviously down on love here. I think he can be very poignant with his anti-love songs. It helps that he writes very poignant love songs too. Seeing both sides of his thoughts on love actually buoy the overall meanings. I wouldn't like the love songs as much without the anti-love songs and vice-versa. The twang in this one is fun, but the guitar gets a bit tired. Singing along is great on this one and if anything actually gets me into country music, this is it.
3. 300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues
I think this sounds like a good deep track from White Blood Cells. They have a really good heavy/soft contrast goin.' The steady groove beat complimented with the light rock riff throughout keeping my intense interest shows that Jack has just about every form of musical control

4. The Conquest
This one is probably the most different album track I've heard. I believe it's a cover, but I don't happen to have my liner notes with me right now. A few weeks ago Corey O'brien played a short interview with Jack where he discussed why he chose to include this song and the importance of its meaning. I caught the last ten seconds, so I still have no idea. Oh well, Jack's obviously relishing in the the brilliant Mexican horn section. This song sounds like it would fit in very well on the Kill Bill soundtrack. That's a compliment. Besides the horns, it's straight-up White Stripes minimalism. It actually sounds a lot like "I Think I Smell a Rat" of White Blood Cells again. Jack does a wonderful job of channeling more energy into these minimalist odes since he knows there's more room for it.

5. Bone Broke
This will be my favorite song six months from now. This is exactly what Jack was talkin' about when he said the new album would be their hardest yet. Strangely, most of the abrasiveness is achieved through his voice alone.

6. Prickly Thorn But Sweetly Worn
Welcome to the Renaissance Faire! This one didn't really give me enough time to really revel in "Bone Broke," but fortunately both songs are very cool for what they actually are. This song sort of reminds me of the video for "Safety Dance." Actually if someone were to dub in this song over the "Safety Dance" video, that old 80s video would be way better.

7. St. Andrew (This Battle Is In The Air)
I actually thought this was just the end of track
6. They are connected though. I guess it's the White Stripes' "Need You Tonight/Mediate." The little rap is a bit strange. I'm not sure who does it. Don't have my liner notes.

8. Little Cream Soda
The intro guitar is a bit tired until the bass (or at least basser parts of the guitar) comes in with Jack's vocals. For some reason, the same initial guitar refrain suddenly becomes a part of the groove when it returns. One thing this album seems to do better than the last one is instill a sense of relentlessness.

9. Rag and Bone
Rag and bone! Rag and bone! I'll be honest. According to me, this song sounds A LOT like "Hot For Teacher." That is no insult. Not at all. Meg and Jack's theatrical dialogue throughout is totally delicious. Meg almost, ALMOST sounds like she's coming up on her tranquilizers. Listen for her snaky whisper say "This fits me perfect!" Jack does a better Jesse Jackson than Jesse Jackson. Speaking of relentless, "Rag and Bone" leaves "Little Cream Soda" in the dust.

10. I'm Slowly Turning Into You
Hmmm. Maybe this cd isn't as country as I originally thought. Is that a Beatles organ? Heavily overdubbed voices? Swiping stereo panning? This is very unique for the White Stripes -- an extensively produced noisefest. It's not like Jack is completely isolated in his own rulebook, but when he changes things up, they work.
11. A Martyr For My Love For You
"Dust In the Wind." Are there ANY actual love songs on the album? Man, this one's menacing.
12. Catch Hell Blues
Straight blues with some kind of psycho arpeggio riffs deadly set to convert any non-blues believers. Mission accomplished.
13. Effect & Cause
Ahh, back to country. They played this on Conan a day before the cd came out. I loved seeing them milk so much entertainment out of this simple acoustic tune. Once again we've got Jack venting about relationships. Makes me wonder if marriage to a Brazillian model has its share of communication and (based on this song) logic issues. Ahh. The light-heartedness of it all is a wonderful cleansing sorbet to finish the album.
My final grade:
In other White Stripes news I read today on the White Stripes site that Cold War Kids will be opening their upcoming tour. This leaves me giddy as all get out considering Robbers & Cowards was probably the best album I bought all year up to the point I picked up Icky Thump. I heard that The Raconteurs would possibly be the opening act, but I imagine that would be physically impossible for Jack to pull off (way cool though). Anyway, with Cold War Kids on the bill, this could be shaping up to be the best concert ever. I've seen some pretty sweet shows in the past: Depeche Mode '94, Oingo Boingo '95, Weezer '95, The Cure '04... but here's hopin.' Of course this is different from my standard synth concert taste... or is it?


Blogger charlottalove said...

9 thumbs huh. That's a lot of stubs. :o)

June 27, 2007 6:52 AM  
Blogger Rhett said...

wait you own this and I've heard it yet..... i don't even know you anymore.

June 29, 2007 12:29 PM  

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