Monday, May 30, 2005

NY Times declares White Stripes release "so unexpected"

Or did they? On June 7, the White Stripes return with a thrilling new album, "Get Behind Me Satan" (Third Man/V2/BMG), that goes a long way toward dismantling the band's goofy mythology. It's an album so strong and so unexpected that it may change the way people hear all its predecessors. And that's just a start. Listen long enough, and this album might change the way you hear lots of other bands, too.

It was clear something strange was afoot when the White Stripes released "Blue Orchid," the album's first single, with a guitar so heavily processed that it almost sounds like a keyboard; it's as if the duo has made peace with its former enemy, the computer. (As is often the case, Meg White's steady drum beat and Jack White's yelped vocals are almost afterthoughts.) This band has always been committed to the sound and feel of vinyl records - the new album, like its predecessor, was made available to reviewers only as a two-LP set - and yet "Blue Orchid" was released straight to iTunes, two weeks after the band recorded it. A band that once wanted to move back in time now seemed eager to hurtle forward.

"Blue Orchid" is the first song on the new album, and it's followed by another surprise: "The Nurse," which begins with a marimba flourish that might once have sounded out of place within the spartan confines of a White Stripes album. His guitar and her drums make occasional, ear-splitting interventions, but the marimba and piano carry the song, while Jack White delivers quietly queasy lyrics about destructive devotion and murderous maids. "No I'm never, no I'm never, no I'm never gonna let you down, now," he sings, turning a murder mystery into a love story. There have been lots of albums about the transformative power of love, but few have been so suspicious of it as this one.

Read the whole thing


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