My very first album review, ‘Elephant’ by The White Stripes.
What am I doing again?
I have decided to start reviewing music and albums both of old and new. Those that are favourites of mine, and ones that I’ve never heard of, and those I probably dislike. Anything to keep our viewers happy of course. So sit down and prepare to dust off your records and CD’s as we travel through time reviewing the best and worst to pop out of the music industry.
I’m not going to lie to all you lovely people, I’m obviously gonna review most of my favourites and the nation’s favourites to start off with, but eventually I will run out and have to resort to other genres and tastes. So I thought I’d start with a nice one – Elephant (2003), by The White Stripes. A garage/alt rock band from the noughties.
Who are The White Stripes?
The White Stripes were an American rock duo formed in 1997 in Detroit, Michigan. Popular with the garage rock movement. The group consisted of Jack White (songwriter, vocals, guitar, piano, and mandolin) and his ex-wife/sister/whatever, Meg White (drums and vocals). They created their own aesthetic on stage performing and in clothing, with only dressing in the colours red, white and black. The band’s name came together from the duo’s surname, ‘White’ along with Meg’s love for peppermint candy. The White Stripes eventually disbanded in 2011 sadly due to various reasons.
The tracks for Elephant:
- Seven Nation Army
- Black Math
- There’s No Home For You Here
- I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
- In The Cold, Cold Night
- I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother’s Heart
- You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket
- Ball And A Biscuit
- The Hardest Button To Button
- Little Acorns
- The Air Near My Fingers
- Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine
- Well It’s True We Love One Another
Elephant, the album itself
Elephant was recorded in 2002 and was The White Stripes’ 4th album. Probably their most successful album due to their hit single ‘Seven Nation Army’, which is still very popular today as it was voted most popular music video by MTV. An absolute anthem if you ask me, or even ask anyone. But for most people, that’s where the love of The White Stripes seems to end. I find it a shame that a lot of people don’t know more of The White Stripes. Seven Nation Army was fantastic but they’ve done so many other fantastic tracks as well, which shall be discussed later. Like ‘Seven Nation Army’, their songs are wonderfully simple. The White Stripes proved you didn’t need a load of instruments to create amazing music. Or that you didn’t even have to be mega skilled with the instrument itself!
Meg White was described by Jack as “a strong female presence” in rock and roll. And I couldn’t agree more. She got no drum lessons, she played the drums in her own creative, primal way, which perfectly complements Jack’s mad guitar playing. A lot of female rock stars were mostly present in the 80’s, for example Madonna or Joan Jett. Girls need more rock stars to look up to and Meg White was a perfect example, she got me into drumming by showing you didn’t have to be the biggest show-off or even the most skilled.
The fast paced songs on the album like ‘Black Math’ and ‘Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine’ with crashing cymbals and rowdy guitar riffs are pleasantly accompanied with calm heart-warming vocals and acoustic songs like ‘You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket’ and ‘Well It’s True That We Love One Another’. Jack White’s songwriting skills prove him to be a true poet. Especially when you hear clever lyrics such as (my personal favourite) “It’s hard to look you in the face when we are talking, so it helps to have a mirror in the room”. I mean when you listen to the track, ‘The Hardest Button To Button’, the lyrics might not make much sense to anyone, but you find they don’t have to! They are still just as enjoyable to listen to and take in.
A personal favourite track of mine from Elephant is a bluesy rock track called ‘Ball And A Biscuit’. Although an 8 minute long track might be a bit long for people I know. But it’s the track I fell in love with after I got to know The White Stripes a bit better than ‘Seven Nation Army’. It follows such a simple drum pattern but the riffs used are absolute heaven, they take you way back to a whole different decade. I find it sad that more artists don’t experiment with such tasteful sounds anymore. Bring it back! Every chorus within the track is filled with mini solo’s through Jack’s guitar. And again, no matter how simplistic the drumming is, it compliments the song perfectly.
The unique talent.
I never understood all the Meg White hate as I’m scrolling through YouTube, she might not be the most talented drummer ever, but she was iconic in The White Stripes. She even got praised by Dave Grohl! “It’s nice to hear drummers like Meg White – one of my favourite fucking drummers of all time. Like, nobody fucking plays the drums like that”. Meg even got her own song on this track which she performs marvellously I will add, ‘In The Cold, Cold Night’. The riff reminds me of the pink panther theme but that gives it a nice mysterious flare that all White Stripes songs seem to possess. What I love about her drumming is that it’s great and fun to play along too, whether you’re a starter drummer or an all around professional.
Conclusion and rating?
Overall, Elephant has got to be one of the most decade-defining, iconic rock albums of all time. The White Stripes’ sound has managed to stay fresh even to this day. Their talent as a duo truly shone through with this album. I personally rate this album 4.5 stars. Although The White Stripes are no more, their music will last the years to come.