CD Review: The White Stripes

Adam Edelman

Artist: The White Stripes

Album: “Icky Thump”

Release date: June 19

Label: Warner Bros.

Availability: CD, iTunes, Ruckus

If it wasn’t apparent before, Jack and Meg White have earned their place in rock history. Few bands today explore different genres and grow musically in the same way the White Stripes do. Every album explores a slightly new sound for the band, yet they never leave their Detroit garage rock roots. One would be hard pressed to find a guitar player who has developed a distinct playing style as well as Jack White – seamlessly blending blues rock and punk rock guitar into a raw growl that sounds like it could have been recorded decades ago.

Their new disc, “Icky Thump,” reaffirms the White Stripes ability to rock hard with only the use of guitar, drums, and the occasional strange backing instrument. The title track is a perfect example of this, with its retro guitar arrangement and unearthly fluttering organ melody. The song gets political with comments on current immigration issues. “White Americans, what/Nothing better to do/Why don’t you kick yourself out/You’re an immigrant too.” Its refreshing to hear some sort of political message in a time when most musicians avoid anything that may offend their listeners.

A cover of Patti Page’s “Conquest” features a call-and-response duel with mariachi-style trumpets and Jack’s high-powered riffs. He belts out the vocals in a haunting tone that crescendos with the trumpets. This song shows the White Stripes aren’t afraid to try new things.

The Stripes further explore uncharted territory with the psychedelic sounds of “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” and “St. Andrews (This Battle Is in the Air).” These two songs fuse Scottish folk and experimental ’60s music. The bagpipes in this song think they are a sitar, while the drum beat is straight out of India.

Many of the other songs, such as “Catch Hell Blues” and “Little Cream Soda,” are a refreshing return to the sounds of their first two albums: raw, striped-down rock. They do it heavier and better now, with more complicated guitar parts and smarter lyrics.

The White Stripes know how to please their fans. Exploring new sounds, yet never leaving the true Stripes sound, “Icky Thump” is an album that many will show to their grandchildren and say, “When I was young, this is what rock was all about.”