The White Stripes - Icky Thump (Warner Brothers, 2007)
After taking a year off for the pet side project The Raconteurs, guitarist and songwriter Jack and drummer Meg White are back, adding diverse influences to their core bluesy garage rock. Actually, as the years go by, the band moves further away from their blues roots, this time out experimenting with Latin and Scottish music. The title track opens the record with a three minute pro-immigration proto-rap rant with thudding drums, mocking organ and feedback rich guitar. It's an audacious beginning and works well setting the tone for the rest of the album. The record breaks down into three categories: rockers like the opener and the guitar-driven "You Don't Know What Love Is", "Bone Broke" and "Catch Hell Blues." These are songs that reflect the core of the Stripes music, Jack's bellowing vocals and slashing guitar over Meg's uncomplicated drumming. In the second category would be the ballads, like "300 Mile and Hour Torrential Outpour Blues" with it's Dylanesque lyrics and acoustic instrumentation. Finally, their experimental songs like the flamenco-rock of "Conquest" with its added trumpet fanfare, and the Scottish influenced medley of "Prickly Thorn But Sweetly Worn" and "St. Andrews" extend the band's range into areas that could scarcely be imagined a few years ago. The joking "Rag and Bone" is a lighthearted romp with spoken word asides that is successful also. This album works well and really demonstrates the growth of the group, both in terms of lyrics and music. It's a consistently enjoyable album by one of the most interesting rock 'n' roll bands on the scene today.
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