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Icky Thump - Single

The White Stripes

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Album Review

A lot changed in the White Stripes' world between Get Behind Me Satan and Icky Thump: Meg White moved to L.A., while Jack White left Detroit for Nashville, married and had a daughter, and formed the Raconteurs, a side project that won so much praise that some fans worried that it meant the end of the Stripes. Those fears were as unfounded as the speculation that White's new hometown meant that the band was going to "go country" (after all, Jack and Meg are wearing the costumes of London's Pearly Kings and Queens, not Nudie suits, on Icky Thump's cover). Though it was recorded at Nashville's state-of-the-art Blackbird Studio and covers everything from bagpipes to metal, Icky Thump is unmistakably a White Stripes album. The eclectic feel of Get Behind Me Satan remains, but is less obvious; interestingly, out of all the band's previous work, Icky Thump's brash and confessional songs most closely resemble De Stijl. "300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues"' acoustic blues and carefully crafted wordplay hark back to "Sister, Do You Know My Name." Meanwhile, "Rag & Bone" is a cute, ragamuffin cousin of "Let's Build a Home" that casts Jack and Meg as enterprising garbage-pickers; the sly grin in Jack's voice as he says "we'll give it a...home" is palpable. And, while Get Behind Me Satan was heavy on pianos, Icky Thump is just plain heavy, dominated by primal, stomping rock that feels like it's been caged for a very long time and is just now being released. Jack White's guitars are back in a big way; "Catch Hell Blues" is a particularly fine showcase for his playing. Once again, though, the Stripes defy expectations, and their "return to rock" isn't necessarily a return to the kind of rock they mastered on Elephant.

Aside from the searing "Bone Broke," which would fit on almost any White Stripes album (and in fact was partially written in 1998), on Icky Thump Jack and Meg push the boundaries of their louder side. Darker and slower than most Stripes singles, "Icky Thump" is their very own "Immigrant Song," with guitars that chug menacingly and lyrics that run the gamut from fever dream meditations on redhead senoritas to pointed political statements ("Why don't you kick yourself out/You're an immigrant too"). "Little Cream Soda" is also outstanding, pairing ranting, spoken-word verses with grinding surf-metal guitars that make it one of the Stripes' heaviest songs. However, the boldest excursion might be "Conquest," which turns Patti Page's '50s-era battle of the sexes into a garage rock bullfight, complete with dramatic mariachi brass, flamenco rhythms, backing vocals that would do Ennio Morricone proud, and dueling guitar and trumpet solos that capture the band's love of drama. As fantastic as Icky Thump's rockers are, its breathers are just as important. Though the Celtic detour that makes up Thump's heart feels out of place initially, "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn" is indeed a sweet and genuine sounding homage to Scottish folk, bagpipes and all (and could also be a nod to the Rolling Stones' flirtation with British folk in the mid-'60s). And while its psychedelic counterpart "St. Andrews (This Battle Is in the Air)" doesn't work quite as well, it feels like the kind of quirky tangent that pops up on plenty of vintage albums as a palate cleanser. The Stripes' poppy and vulnerable sides get slightly short shrift on Icky Thump. "You Don't Know What Love Is" is so hooky it could just as easily be a Raconteurs song, though it boasts a guitar solo that stings like lemon juice in a paper cut. "I'm a Martyr for My Love for You" is the album's lone ballad, and while its melody is beautiful, it may be the album's weakest track. And though Icky Thump's track listing might be slightly front-loaded, the Stripes uphold their tradition of ending their albums on a playful note with the wonderful "Effect and Cause," which feels equally indebted to hillbilly wisdom and Mungo Jerry's sly jug-band shuffle. With its fuller sound and relaxed flights of fancy, Icky Thump is a mature, but far from stodgy, album — and, as is usually the case, it's just great fun to hear the band play. [The 2007 edition included one bonus track.]

Customer Reviews

Beyond expectations...

Jack White has said that the forthcoming album, also titled Icky Thump, would be "very heavy." If this single is any indication, the album will be incredible. This song is guitar heavy, with a very interesting use of the new toy in Jack's arsenal, an early synthisizer which can play only one note at a time. Here, it sounds similar to the instruments played by snake charmers, or, at least, as snake charmers were portrayed in the cartoons that I watched growing up, but you get the point. This is a dirty stomp of a song, with the simple, yet extremely effective drumming of the beautiful Meg, who has an uncanny knack for knowing when not to play, which thereby spotlights, at every appropriate moment, the abject mastery of a guitar, as wielded by Mr. White himself. Can you tell I am a fan? I know that the rest of the candy cane nation will rejoice for the return of guitar heavy, down and dirty blues as interpreted/created by the hardest rocking duo ever. But I digress...

An Explanation of His "Political" View

This is an awesome song and before you start criticizing his "political" views, you should check out what the song is actually saying: It starts off with a drunk White American who goes to Mexico and meets a Mexican chica. He then starts demanding things from her as if he's all that. She is obviously pissed at this so she drugs him with: "candy cane Black rum, sugar cane Dry ice (and) something strange" He then passes out. "La la la la la la la La la la la la la la" He wakes up and realizes that he had just been robbed... "Went home and learned how To clean up after myself." this line alludes to how many Mexican immigrants in America are house cleaners and clean up after "White Americans". he goes home and realizes that he's an idiot... and decides he'd better start cleaning up after himself. the moral of the story is, you can't use immigrants and then treat them like crap. Because what you don't realize is that the immigrants you use actually have the upper hand. so you'd better treat them nice because if they wanted too they could ruin your life. If you ever went to mexico (as an immigrant) and treated them the same crappy way you treat them here, you'd get beaten. "White Americans, what? Nothing better to do? Why don't you kick yourself out You're an immigrant too? Who's using who? What should we do? Well, you can't be a pimp And a prostitue too." BOooya!!! another awesome song by Jacky White!!!

The White Stripes' long-awaited single does not disappoint.

"Icky Thump," the first released song from the White Stripes' sixth studio album by the same name, impresses on every level. It is more complex than "Elephant," and brings the White Stripes into a new chapter of their musical career. The writing and arranging are great. Meg is still as solid as ever. Though it's not the most vocally demanding White Stripes song, Jack is still great and moves around with ease. Hopefully this is a good taste of what is to come on the new album. "Icky Thump" was well worth the wait, and shows that the White Stripes are still as nimble as ever.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The White Stripes formed on Bastille Day in 1997, aiming to create simple, vigorous rock & roll with little more than Meg White's percussion and Jack White's guitar-and-vocal attack. Meg's drumming was deliberate and straightforward, while Jack's formidable guitar skills paid homage to garage rock, blues, and punk. A former drummer for the Detroit-based country outfit Goober & the Peas, he also displayed an affinity for American folk music, and the White Stripes took strength in the varied...
Full Bio

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