‘Elephant’ is a massive success
By Chris Hammonds
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.
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
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
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.