When thinking about the White Stripes, Jack White’s most important problem child, plenty of things come to mind. Red and white, candy cane swirls, “are they actually brother and sister?” and Seven Nation Army.
And while I could rave about my forever favourite White Stripes album White Blood Cells for hours and hours (I mean, Hotel Yorba, come on!!), I think Icky Thump deserves to be talked about. Why? Well…
It’s interesting; after Jack White found the odd wardrobe and midwestern sound of his then newest baby The Raconteurs, the already a bit problem-shaken White Stripes took a backseat. And nobody then knew Icky Thump would be the last studio album the two of them would create.
Icky Thump starts out with the title track, which is creepy and weird as fuck, but it sounds like The White Stripes. You’ve got a little bit of De Stijl in there and mostly White Blood Cells. It’s garage rock, it’s dirty and cool. Familiar. But if they had decided to stick with that I would be writing about White Blood Cells now, and we all know that would’ve been a lot less exciting.
The madness (and I’m not using that word in a derogatory sense) of it all starts in the middle. Conquest, a Patti Page cover from the 50s, leads into St. Andrew (The Battle is in the Air) with Megs distraught monologue, leads into a breath of relief when Little Cream Soda at least somewhat sounds what we know and love and doesn’t confuse us but then we get right back into the whirlwind when they tell us a story about them being scrap collectors and you start questioning if there has ever been any rhyme or reason to any of this.
Icky Thump is the collective effort of everything the White Stripes have done in their musical career – it’s a little bit of country, a lot of garage rock, some sort of blues, lots of nods to Zeppelin and Dylan and it’s got the poetic weirdness that I’m pretty sure only Jack White can come up with. So listen to it. You don’t even have to like it.
Just listen to it.