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The White Stripes

De Stijl

(Sympathy for the Record Industry; US: 20 Jun 2000)

“Modern White Blues”... this phrase scares me, and rightly so. It should scare you too. This is just one of a plethora of cod descriptions that seem to have magnetically attached themselves to The White Stripes of late. The White Stripes are Jack and Meg White, both born and raised in Detroit (pronounced Dee-troit). This brother/sister are talented enough to blow your socks off and into your neighbor’s yard. Enough to make your socks wash, sniff and sell themselves on street corners; enough to rise above casual pigeonholing.

De Stijl is their second release and seems to be kicking up a fair amount of critical acclaim. Even Rolling Stone has touted them as a “next big thing”; maybe you’ll see them gracing the front cover of your TV Guide, maybe not. They give you music that is stripped down and bare-boned and yet they have the gifted ability to invoke an amount of power way beyond the constraints of their simplicity. Their best asset lies in the space between the music, not what is played, but what is left out: the foundation of sound. There is just enough emptiness around for an impeccable gunshot drumbeat and a guitar man to assume the total power focus. They know all this. They know they’re good. They can move comfortably from the fuzzed up freewheeling carnality of “Let’s Build a Home” or “Hello Operator” and then bring it down to a more candy striped melodic level “I’m Bound to Pack It Up” or “Apple Blossom”.

Clearly the blues heavily influences them, but they preach their own gospel, and they saw that it was good. It seems to me that one or two songs hang heavy with the whiff of a jingle jangle dandy, but despite this naysaying the album is solid and chock full of satisfaction. The White Stripes pony up the goods once again and these “modern white blues” taste like five different flavors of splendid, their kingdom may well come. The album is at your local record store now, so do the right thing, make a move and don’t be rude. Item of note: the CD liner includes a photograph of the finest looking speaker ever to grace anything ever.

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