Saturday, August 05, 2006

Get Behind Me Satan

album review

Album: Get Behind Me Satan
Band: The White Stripes

This garage-rock duo earned mainstream recognition with their minimalist approach to blues-rock in the form of their breakthrough album 'White Blood Cells' and it's critically acclaimed follow up 'Elephant', rehashing the sound that they offered in their self-titled debut, and second set 'De Stijl'. After four records, you'd be inclined to believe that you know what The White Stripes are all about. But if 'Blue Orchid' - the first single from their fifth album - had you fooled into thinking that the Stripes plan to stick to their tried and tested formula in 'Get Behind Me Satan', then you're in for a surprise. The album might have the same roots, but it branches into something that's totally different from their previous releases.

'Get Behind Me Satan' sees The White Stripes trade their predominantly guitar-and-drum-reliant style for piano-driven melodies, and shows the band experimenting on a whole new canvas. And the results are extremely interesting, to say the least. There might not be a 'Seven Nation Army' or 'Fell In Love With A Girl' on this album, but the chart success of songs like 'My Doorbell' and 'The Denial Twist' has proved that Jack and Meg White haven't lost any of their red, white and black charm.

The album finds betrayal and loneliness running through as the main theme, and retains the band's credibility while showcasing their newfound versatility. There's the Led Zeppelin reminiscent 'Instinct Blues', the bluegrass-tinged 'Little Ghost' (which doesn't come as much of a surprise seeing Jack's work on the 'Cold Mountain' soundtrack and on Loretta Lynn's 'Van Lear Rose'), and the piano-based ballad 'I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)'.

'Passive Manipulation' features Meg on lead vocals and seems to end almost before it starts, although one can (quite convincingly) argues that thirty seconds of Meg's singing are more than enough. 'Forever for Her (Is Over For Me)' goes to show that the marimba can indeed be used to good effect. And even though the absolute randomness of parts of 'The Nurse' might make it sound like a recording session gone wrong, but it is, nonetheless, one of the best songs on the record, and perfectly captures the feel of the entire album: it's raw, it's different, at times it's nothing short of strange; yet, it's weirdly pleasant and doesn't fail to capture the attention of the listener.

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 4th August, 2006