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" ;E r :3 l: ) THE WHlTE STRIPES _ Are they or aren’t they? Whatever their relationship, Elephant 'Kl .00. Jack and Meg sure do have the blues
n the surface the White Stripes are pretty weird. 0 Two scrawny Yanks who dress only in red and white
who claim to be brother and sister but are actually (ex) husband and wife. What is this? Some kind of confessional TV talk show? Well, not exactly. Behind the childish, frankly odd frontage there's is an untamed rock‘n'roll beast, feral and hungry. Their sound is the blues (and by this we mean Howlin’ Wolf, not frickin' Moby) and decades of rock‘n‘roll (Led Zeppelin, Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Smog, Queen, the Stooges, Tim Buckley, Bob Dylan) distilled into a most explosive and heady brew.
It was easy to overlook the White Stripes before, so if you missed them, you’re excused. Their third long player, White Blood Cells, was released within a month of the Strokes’ debut Is this It and while that album went onto become the rock‘n‘roll equivalent of the Rubik’s Cube - everyone in the playground just had to have one — the White Stripes ground away, popping up on MTV2, frightening people at festivals and, strangely enough, touring as opening act for the Strokes in America. While Casablancas and his pals paired off with Hollywood starlets and were generally living large, Meg and Jack White retreated to London’s Toe Rag studios, who claims none of its equipment is newer than 40-years- old, to create album number four, which is arguably their most consistent and expressive record yet.
Elephant, for all its seemingly minimal composite parts (one drum set, one guitar and lots of roaring) is a diverse and expansive record. Over 14 tracks there's a trudging blues dirge (a la ‘Little Red Rooster') in ‘Ball and Biscuit’, early 60$ hand clap pop in ‘Hypnotise' and spooky psychedelic Iullabies sung by Meg in ‘In the Cold, Cold Night’.
The bombast of ‘Seven Nation Army' kicks it off, growling
and prowling before pouncing with a ferocious, greasy slide out. The aforementioned ‘Ball and Biscuit’ follows and guitar line while ‘Black Math' is as close as they ever get to things go a little awry until ‘Girl, you Have No Faith in regulation White Stripes: a torn-up riff, bellowed over by Medicine‘, where the Whites not only impress With the Jagk, underpinned by Meg's neanderthal trap-set pound. a finest title for any song since . . . oh, ages and ages, but here 5 No Home for you Here is a work of Singular display their skill for amorous Stones-ish strutting and
wonder. Refuge to one of Jack‘s most emotive choruses, it "ff, pouting.
spews forth multi-tracked vocals and rasping six-string, as b J k Closer “It‘s True that we Love One Another‘ is a fitting
if ‘Strawberry Fields’ was a Stooges song rather than by the y I end to a varied collection, with the Whites corralling their
Beatles, with a disparaging tirade for lyrics. pal, English songstrel Holly Golightly, in for an out-on-the- In ‘I Don't Know What to Do with Myself‘ Jack plays the stoop acoustic bitch-a-Iong, littered with tongue-in-cheek
lovelorn troubadour gone rabid while ‘I Wanna Be the Boy put-downs. . . .' could be his sensitive Billy Joel moment - well, if Billy On the evidence of this record the White Stripes still Joel dug the Zombies instead of uptown girls. seem kind of weird, and even if they have managed to win
The real centrepiece to Elephant is ‘You've Got her in the hearts of all those Strokes fans longing for a new fix, your Pocket’: just Jack and an acoustic guitar with a it's a weird we should embrace and celebrate: being chorus plaintive enough to tear your weak and feeble heart unique must be difficult. (Mark Robertson)
".' :' ' ' 'THE LIST 97