Prior to today, I'd never knowingly listened to anything by the White Stripes,
but upon hearing a track whilst browsing in HMV (which turned out to be
<em>Seven Nation Army</em>), then hearing another immediately afterwards (
<em>Black Math</em>), I was sold. After asking one of the shelf monkeys what
it was, I bought <em>Elephant</em> and brought it home.
The most well-known songs would tend to characterise <em>Elephant</em> as a probably
once-off collection of punchy, medium-rock tracks, but on an extended listening
you find that there's actually a very tight and mature sound running throughout,
and not at all self-conscious nor flagging (this being their fourth album, after all
- I think). Jack White's slightly rough-edged and sometimes even whiny vocals
convey an overriding sense of certainty and relevance, contrasted interestingly
with Meg White's still rather tentative voice.
Track 4 is worthy of special mention, being a uniquely melancholy (and even desperate)
cover of Burt Bacharach's <em>I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself</em>. The first
track, the aforementioned <em>Seven Nation Army</em>, smacks of contemporary rock
classic from the opening seven guitar notes, and the alternating metre of the lyrics
drives the song almost as much as the weighty and insistent bass guitar throughout.
<em>Black Math</em> and <em>Hypnotize</em> are similarly memorable for their brashness
and unashamed attitude, but the slow and thin <em>In The Cold, Cold Night</em> remains
at the front of mind even amongst such excellent competition - probably for the sharp
contrast from the warm assertiveness of the rest of the album. In context, the track
is quite haunting, and a welcome change of pace which is perfectly positioned in the
<em>Elephant</em> is an extremely tightly-constructed, solid and intelligent album that
has managed to earn a place both on my iPod (in its entirety) and in the car all within
half a day; a very rare thing, believe me. Buy it at
or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00008J4P5/qid=1076274781//ref=pd_ka_1/103-8330376-9624622?v=glance&s=music&n=507846">Amazon.com</a>.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to return some videotapes.