Jack and Meg White get back to the guitar-and-drum thump their fans know and love, with the six-string up front, loud, and proud.
On their new album, Icky Thump, Jack’s guitar is strong from the start, with the title cut’s pounding rhythm and cool single-line notes defining the effort. And the lyric, like most things here, is clever if a bit diluted, and despite its odd title, gets a bit political. It’s a little amazing that a duo of guitar and drums can keep things this interesting, but from the old-fashioned pop-rock of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” to the acoustic/electric blues mix of “300 M.P.H Torrential Outpour Blues” to the hard rock of “Little Cream Soda” and the wonderful boogie of “Rag and Bone,” things never sound the same, and certainly never drag.
Jack certainly loads his signal chain with effects boxes, but to his credit, he uses them judiciously. “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” features an octave device that sets the song apart. And on the closer, “Effect and Cause” he proves that he can hang acoustically with any folk-rocker.
Vocally, White’s in fine voice here, parlaying an “Americanized” Robert Plant feel. And he has never been afraid to play with his lyrics; in fact, he appears to have as much fun singing his words as he does writing them, a trait lost on most rock singers today, who would rather pose than perform.
Many see the White Stripes as rock’s great hope. And while that remains to be seen, with efforts like this they certainly appear to be capable of keeping the light burning.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.