Release Date: Jun 19, 2007
Record label: Warner Bros
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
All bands have a sell-by date, but the White Stripes seemed destined for a shorter shelf life than most. Their music was self-consciously limited, their image so obviously contrived as to make your average Pop Idol look as grimily authentic as Wattie from the Exploited. And yet, a decade into their career, the White Stripes are still thriving. They have survived the revelation they were fibbing about being brother and sister, ostracism from the Detroit garage scene that bore them, and Jack White's fast-tracking to that rarefied strata of rock superstardom where one gets to pal around with Bob Dylan, act, write music for Coca-Cola commercials and indulge in activities that whiff of Spinal Tap.
Aside from the searing "Bone Broke," which would fit on almost any White Stripes album (and in fact was partially written in 1998), on Icky Thump Jack and Meg push the boundaries of their louder side. Darker and slower than most Stripes singles, "Icky Thump" is their very own "Immigrant Song," with guitars that chug menacingly and lyrics that run the gamut from fever dream meditations on redhead senoritas to pointed political statements ("Why don't you kick yourself out/You're an immigrant too"). "Little Cream Soda" is also outstanding, pairing ranting, spoken-word verses with grinding surf-metal guitars that make it one of the Stripes' heaviest songs.
Contrary to what you may have heard, Jack White has not used the atom-split guitar fury of Icky Thump to blow back his sound into the nerve-jangled, skeletal Dee-troit blues of 1999's White Stripes and 2000's De Stijl. Nor has his music become excessively political, despite the inclusion of such lyrics as "White Americans, what?/ Nothing better to do?/ Why don't you kick yourself out/ You're an immigrant, too" careering throughout the "Icky Thump" single. That sleek yet loose-limbed monster was Frankensteined from the hard disco wail of "Blue Orchid" and the vibratory hum of the Stripes' Tegan and Sara cover "Walking with a Ghost," creating what is arguably the band's best single since "Fell in Love with a Girl.
Review Summary: A successful return to the band's roots after the self-indulgent Get Behind Me Satan. Just don't mention Jack's Scottish heritage.As soon as I decided to sit down and have a listen to this, my housemate - who is fond of blasting awful NME rock very loudly - put on White Blood Cells so loudly that, even at full volume, I couldn't hear my newly-acquired Pickering Pick album coming out of my speakers any more. I've been putting up with this all year, so it's not a source of anger for me any more.
There are two guarantees with each new White Stripes disc: The dynamic duo will put their best foot forward, then close with something better left on the cutting-room floor. On Icky Thump, their sixth LP and Warner Bros. debut, recorded at Nashville, Tenn.'s Blackbird Studio, the title track erupts like a "Seven Nation Army." Jack White's electric-guitar squall ricochets off a Wurlitzer organ, creating a kaleidoscope effect akin to the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows," over which the singer rants hysterically in both channels.