White Stripes ~ Get Behind Me Satan
Their fifth album, Get Behind Me Satan
is the strangest and least focused effort by these unlikely garage rock superstars to date. It's also their finest, an Exile on Main Street
-ish mish-mash where the sum is greater than the parts. In a market increasingly driven by singles and downloads, it's nice to be reminded how exciting an album can be, especially one where you really don't know what to expect next. There are a lot fewer pounding guitars on this album. They've largely been replaced by pounding pianos. Most songs sound like rough mixes at first; almost every song has something exceptionally loud in the mix--the guitar solo in "The Nurse," the drums in "Doorbell," everything in "Blue Orchid." After a few listens, however, it becomes clear that the group is not using the studio as an instrument so much as exposing the nuts and bolts in the process along the way.
There are some duds; the wanky blooze-rawk number "Instinct Blues" goes on way too long and it would be nice if "The Nurse" had a real chorus. Whether "Passive Manipulation" is about the wife-or-sister schtick, if the cover artwork indeed has Jack and Meg calling each other devils, and which scripture is referred to by the album's title (Matthew, Mark or Luke?): none of that matters so much as the fact that this album is strangely sprawling and obliquely ass-kicking at the same time. "Orchid" is a rockdisko sonic smash that shows how to really get rock kids on the dancefloor. Meanwhile, "Doorbell" sounds enough like the Jackson Five to totally rule, and "Forever for Her" is the best ballad Jack's written in years. The fact that some marimbas provide the driving force to "Forever" makes it all the better. --Mike McGonigal