#1518 The White Stripes – Elephant

There was a lot of hoo-hah around The White Stripes at the fin de siècle, and they seemed to encompass our collective cultural consciousness of millennium-fuelled paranoia and petulance, knowingness and naïveté with a raw au naturel back to basic blues. I was a bit slow on the uptake (never having been one to ride the zeitgeist), only coming to love them on this their third album from 2003, and their first on a major label. It helped to propel them further skyward way beyond the glories of their home town of Detroit.

This album is about as ‘epic’ as garage-blues-rock could ever be, not least due to their simple but effective songs and ‘arrangements’, if you can call it that – Meg beating the shit out of the drums whilst Jack shreds the hell out of his guitar.

Seven Nation Army, the opener on this album, was a massive hit, which proves that there is occasionally some justice on the world. It’s a massive song, in every sense of the word. They keep the driving beat and heat up with tracks like Black Math, The Hardest Button to Button, There’s No Home for You Here and Hypnotize. White’s take on the Burt Bacharach classic I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself is pure genius, and goes to show what can be done with an unusual cover and an unusually creative brain.

There’s no fluff on this record, and in addition to the ubiquitous Seven Nation Army, my favourites and Ball and A Biscuit and Girl, You’ve Got No Faith in Medicine and delightfully irreverent Little Acorns. Jack’s vocal and songwriting on the first two in particular shows his range is far more than cocky garage-swamp blues. Meg also has a turn at the vocals, on In the Cold, Cold Night, and alongside Holly Golightly on the light-hearted closing track, It’s True That We Love One Another, recorded just down the road from where I used to live at the time in Hackney. They provide us with some short pauses of ‘light relief’ before we want to turn the dial up to 11 again.

Best Bits: That opener – Seven Nation Army – pure genius
Genre: Indie Punky Garage Rock
Like This, Try This: Celebrate those special occasions in the way only the British can, with a cup of tea. As in: ‘Cup of tea then Bruce, let’s celebrate’

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