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Inside April 22, 2003's Issue



'Phone Booth'


Stripes’ ‘Elephant’ is a massive success

By Chris Hammonds
Assistant Editor

The White Stripes have become lumped in with a slew of other successful faux-retro, pseudo-underground “s bands” like The Strokes, The Vines and The Donnas.

'The White Stripes' new album, 'Elephant' Despite their success, the duo’s third release and major label debut “Elephant” is surprisingly and perhaps suspiciously devoid of high production values.

It’s this kind of faith in tradition that keeps the Detroit duo safely and dependably stuck in their niche of cranking out energetic and minimalistic old-school rock.

“Elephant” sounds, probably, exactly what it would have sounded like regardless of whether or not the Stripes hit it big with “White Blood Cells.”

Make no mistake about it, this is a great rock album. Recorded on equipment that pre-dates The Beatles, there’s no denying the honesty of the music. “Elephant” is raw, smart and occasionally playful.

Jack White’s unique voice runs this gamut almost as much as his guitar does throughout the 14 tracks that make the album. White’s vocals can seemingly channel Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger and Jerry-Lee Lewis all on the same album. It’s really quite amazing.

The album opens with the imitation bass riff (yes, that's a guitar with an octave pedal, not a bass) that starts off the current radio success “Seven Nation Army.” Cynics may dismiss “Seven Nation Army” as radio single fodder, but there’s no denying the purity and immediacy of the album that follows.

The third track, “There’s No Home for You Here” is a mix of pop-hook bliss and ingenious spoken word lyricism.

“Ball and Biscuit” is a blues-drenched seven minutes of half-serious, half tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendo where Jack White proclaims, “It’s quite possible that I’m your third man, girl / But it’s a fact that I’m the seventh son.” Think of it as a less-than-subtle take on the themes of Depeche Mode’s “It’s No Good.”

Meghan White, the other half of the duo, also finds her voice and sings on the minimalistic and chill-inducing “In the Cold Cold Night”

The only possible weakness of “Elephant” is the song “Hypnotise” which sounds, debatably, a little too much like a retread of “Fell in Love With a Girl,” the single that exposed them to the masses in America.

Speaking of the masses, the closing song “It’s True That We Love One Another” is a joke that should amuse Stripes fans, and leave others scratching their heads.


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