Last year we lost one of the greatest garage rock/blues bands of our time: The White Stripes. So what better way to remember them than by reviewing the album that started it all, The White Stripes? This is probably one of the greatest debut albums of all time. Everything on here is just about perfect: the songs are great, there’s never a dull point in the album where it takes a turn for the worse or where there’s a lull, and do I have to mention the guitar riffs? Yes? Well fine. The guitar is fucking amazing. The White Stripes wouldn’t hit the mainstream until six years after this album’s release, but it’s been re-released so current White Stripes fans can enjoy their first album.
This album is filled with seventeen blues and rock influenced songs. Now usually this many songs would hurt an album, especially a debut one, because songs will start sounding the same and sometimes they feel like album filler, but that feeling is never present on this album. Though there are an abundance of tracks here the album doesn’t drag on and never gets boring. This could be due to the fact that most of the songs are one minute in length, but it’s also a result of Jack White’s musicianship.
All of the songs are awesome. There’s never a dull moment in the album since the songs are filled with great riffs and wild singing. The songs are also catchy even though some of them sound so simple with White often repeating the same lyrics throughout the whole track. One of the best songs on the album is “Do.” It starts off with a slow melodic riff before White starts singing passionately. The pace of the song really makes it stand out because it’s one of the few slow tracks on the album. The best parts are when White is singing with no music accompanying him. This makes the song feel more intimate.
What keeps the album fresh and interesting is that every song has its own sound, which shows all the different music that influences the band. For example, some songs like “The Big Three Killed my Baby” sound straight up rock and roll, but a track like “Suzy Lee” has a more blues influence behind it. This also shows how the band can work in any musical setting and still rock the house. And even though the album doesn’t have one static sound, it still manages to not be disjointed. There’s never a point in the album when a song comes on that feels out of place. It all flows extremely well.
As mentioned before, the guitar riffs here are amazing. Some of them sound so simple, but they will still blow your mind. Some of them will leave you in awe wondering how Jack White is wrenching those notes from his guitar. White’s guitar has a rough, dirty, raw sound which matches perfectly with the raw feeling found on the album due to the quality of the sound production. And it’s hard to ignore the blues influence in his riffs. His attitude always comes out through his guitar playing and his singing. Some of the best riffs are found on “Jimmy the Exploder,” “Cannon,” and the great jumping riff found on “Screwdriver.”
White’s vocals will also impressive you. A lot of times he sounds uninhibited and wild, hooting and hollering through the song (“Jimmy the Exploder”). But there are other times where White sings softly, as if he’s letting you into his mind. His vocals are best on display on “Wasting My Time.” He will go back and forth between crooning softly to yelling excessively. Everything in this song exudes aggressiveness and the feeling of being fed up. His attitude is strong and clear on this track.
While Meg White is not the best drummer or even a decent drummer, there are a few times where her little effort makes a song stand out more. Her simple thudding on the drums in the opening track “Jimmy the Exploder” sounds like she’s drumming in a drunken stupor, which really grabs your attention. Hey drumming may not be anything to brag about, but there are moments when it really shines through.
Overall, this album gets 9/10. It’s a strong first record where every song is filled with Jack White’s genius and manages never to get boring or run on too long. The blues and rock inspired guitar playing will leave you in awe. All the songs are brilliant. Everything from the minimal drumming to the ambitious singing makes this album just about perfect. It’s an album that’s now considered a classic among White Stripes fans.
What’s your favorite song from this album? Was your mind blown when you first hear Jack White’s mind blowing riffs? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.