June 21, 2007

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The White Stripes, Icky Thump
Warner Bros/Wea, 2007

The Whites channel Led Zepplin IV (minus the hobbits) in their blues-punk, extra kick drum version of Revolver.

High praise via metaphor; and barring an awkward aside to spoken word (“St. Andrew”) it’s apt. Jack and Meg knock thier folk-metal ball out of the park again on Icky Thump, turning back from the oft-derided experimentation of Get Behind Me Satan. They’ve not completely returned to the well, though, and a playful air abounds on even the dirtiest low-downiest tracks. Obviously masters of the sound that they have, for my money, inaugurated, the Whites freely weedle weedle weedle whee all over their signature off-kilter drums and double choruses. Icky Thump stays the hell away from slick production and it’s the better for it. There is a honesty to the performances here; you can feel every drum beat and almost see Jack sliding all over the guitar. When it falters, and I’m not totally sure that it even does, it’s when The White Stripes hew too close to their White Blood Cells days. If Get Behind Me Satan was a left turn at a musical fork, Icky Thump is the right, a bit more familiar but still a refreshingly new path. Most of all Icky Thump sounds like fun. Like a nitrous and whiskey-driven seance to summon Junior Kimbrough and Jimmy Page and have a wicked midnight party out in the garage. AGlenn Given