Jack White has found immense success this year with his first solo album, but it’s the White Stripes’ third album that makes me miss the band so much. This is probably their best release. It’s full of great and memorable songs, plus there isn’t a dull moment to be found. This is the album that put the band in the spotlight and for a good reason too; it’s damn good.
There are so many great songs here that it’s hard not to talk about all of them. There’s something awesome about every track, whether it’s the killer guitar work or the somber lyrics. The album opens with one of my most favorite White Stripes songs “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.” I think what makes the song so great is the riff. It’s in your face with it’s dirty, grungy sound and it just won’t quit. It really makes the song. The lyrics are awesome too. I feel that they’re odd, yet quirky. For some reason I especially like the line “If you can hear a piano fall, you can hear me coming down the hall.” It’s an interesting way to say I know you can hear me coming.
The next song is one I was never a huge fan of. “Hotel Yorba” has a country vibe with it’s twang of the guitar and feels like a giddy good time. I don’t know why I was never a fan of the song, but the more you try to dislike the song, the more you can’t resist it. It’s just so damn catchy that you’ll eventually catch yourself singing it. It’s definitely one of those songs where you gather your friends to sing along with you. It feels like it should be sung around a campfire. After listening to it again, I realize it’s not as bad as I once thought. It’s just not something I can listen to on a regular basis.
One song that can’t be ignored is the awesome “Fell in Love with a Girl.” Clocking in at one minute, it blazes by with it’s energetic, dirty guitar riff. You get so wrapped up in the music you never realize the song is about finding another lover. It has a great punk rock vibe with how fast the song is. It’s one of the best on the album and the only time Jack White seems to let loose here. Another song that’s really great and under a minute is the stripped down “Little Room.” What makes this song so great is that it’s just Jack’s singing and Meg’s drumming. There’s no guitar at all. It’s interesting how Jack’s lyrics and the way he’s singing provides the rest of the music.
Another song that is a favorite of mine is “The Union Forever.” It begins with this slow, drawn out riff where you can envision every note and string Jack is plucking. When the drums and the rest of the music comes in the song gets this creepy vibe. The way the background music hums along reminds me of something that should be playing in a black and white horror movie. Jack adds to the feeling by sounding bitter and cynical when singing. One really great part here is when all the music stops expect for Meg’s drumsticks clacking together with Jack singing. It has this unexpected stark sound that’s really cool.
One thing that long time White Stripes fans may notice about the album is it’s lacking in Blues sound and influence. This is one thing the band is known for and it’s a surprise that they shy away from it here. The music is more guitar and piano focused, making the sound more along the lines of garage and classic rock. Some songs like “We’re Going to Be Friends” have a folk music style. But no matter how hard the band tries, some Blues seems to slip into the songs. Maybe it’s just me, but “Expecting” seems to have a slight hint of the genre. Maybe it’s the hard guitar riff or the negative connotation of the song, but it definitely reminds me of the music they love so much.
The songs on the album deal with the topics of love, paranoia, heartache, and betrayal. Because of this the album seems to have more of a somber sound than their past ones. Yes, “Hotel Yorba” and “Fell in Love with a Girl” are very upbeat, but they’re about the only ones that are. Songs like “I Can’t Wait” and “I’m Finding it Harder to Be a Gentleman Everyday” seem to have unhappy topics, but they also have a darker sound. The riffs are just slower and more somber than before, which is another thing that is different about the music. The guitar riffs are not as wild and unchained as they have been in the past. Only one of the songs makes you want to jump around the room, the rest of them are on the slow side of things. And even though some of the songs may have more positive topics, the lyrics and the mood of the song still give off a bad feeling. “We’re going to be Friends” actually reminds me of that one friend you make in grammar school and you never spend any time apart. You hope to be friends forever, but it doesn’t last.
Overall, the album gets 10/10. It’s the band’s best work. It has awesome songs with kick ass guitar work as always. It may shy away from the blues sound Jack and Meg are well known for, but it makes up for it with the guitar and piano taking over. There are some songs that aren’t as good as the others, but even these are pretty great. This is the album the band will be remembered for years and years later. It’s still upsetting that we’ve lost one of the best rock bands in recent history, but hopefully Jack White will continue excellent music in the future.
Don’t forget to check out the De Stijl review while you’re here!