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Alternative & Indie - Released July 1, 2008 | Warner Records

White Blood Cells may have been a reaction to the amount of fame the White Stripes had received up to the point of its release, but, paradoxically, it made full-fledged rock stars out of Jack and Meg White and sold over half a million copies in the process. Despite the White Stripes' ambivalence, fame nevertheless seems to suit them: They just become more accomplished as the attention paid to them increases. Elephant captures this contradiction within the Stripes and their music; it's the first album they've recorded for a major label, and it sounds even more pissed-off, paranoid, and stunning than its predecessor. Darker and more difficult than White Blood Cells, the album offers nothing as immediately crowd-pleasing or sweet as "Fell in Love With a Girl" or "We're Going to Be Friends," but it's more consistent, exploring disillusionment and rejection with razor-sharp focus. Chip-on-the-shoulder anthems like the breathtaking opener, "Seven Nation Army," which is driven by Meg White's explosively minimal drumming, and "The Hardest Button to Button," in which Jack White snarls "Now we're a family!" -- one of the best oblique threats since Black Francis sneered "It's educational!" all those years ago -- deliver some of the fiercest blues-punk of the White Stripes' career. "There's No Home for You Here" sets a girl's walking papers to a melody reminiscent of "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" (though the result is more sequel than rehash), driving the point home with a wall of layered, Queen-ly harmonies and piercing guitars, while the inspired version of "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" goes from plaintive to angry in just over a minute, though the charging guitars at the end sound perversely triumphant. At its bruised heart, Elephant portrays love as a power struggle, with chivalry and innocence usually losing out to the power of seduction. "I Want to Be the Boy" tries, unsuccessfully, to charm a girl's mother; "You've Got Her in Your Pocket," a deceptively gentle ballad, reveals the darker side of the Stripes' vulnerability, blurring the line between caring for someone and owning them with some fittingly fluid songwriting. The battle for control reaches a fever pitch on the "Fell in Love With a Girl"-esque "Hypnotize," which suggests some slightly underhanded ways of winning a girl over before settling for just holding her hand, and on the show-stopping "Ball and Biscuit," seven flat-out seductive minutes of preening, boasting, and amazing guitar prowess that ranks as one the band's most traditionally bluesy (not to mention sexy) songs. Interestingly, Meg's star turn, "In the Cold, Cold Night," is the closest Elephant comes to a truce in this struggle, her kitten-ish voice balancing the song's slinky words and music. While the album is often dark, it's never despairing; moments of wry humor pop up throughout, particularly toward the end. "Little Acorns" begins with a sound clip of Detroit newscaster Mort Crim's Second Thoughts radio show, adding an authentic, if unusual, Motor City feel. It also suggests that Jack White is one of the few vocalists who could make a lyric like "Be like the squirrel" sound cool and even inspiring. Likewise, the showy "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine" -- on which White resembles a garage rock snake-oil salesman -- is probably the only song featuring the word "acetaminophen" in its chorus. "It's True That We Love One Another," which features vocals from Holly Golightly as well as Meg White, continues the Stripes' tradition of closing their albums on a lighthearted note. Almost as much fun to analyze as it is to listen to, Elephant overflows with quality -- it's full of tight songwriting, sharp, witty lyrics, and judiciously used basses and tumbling keyboard melodies that enhance the band's powerful simplicity (and the excellent "The Air Near My Fingers" features all of these). Crucially, the White Stripes know the difference between fame and success; while they may not be entirely comfortable with their fame, they've succeeded at mixing blues, punk, and garage rock in an electrifying and unique way ever since they were strictly a Detroit phenomenon. On these terms, Elephant is a phenomenal success. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 19, 2007 | Warner Records

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. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 1, 2008 | Warner Records

Despite the seemingly instant attention surrounding them -- glowing write-ups in glossy magazines like Rolling Stone and Mojo, guest lists boasting names like Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson, and appearances on national TV -- the White Stripes have stayed true to the approach that brought them this success in the first place. White Blood Cells, Jack and Meg White's third effort for Sympathy for the Record Industry, wraps their powerful, deceptively simple style around meditations on fame, love, and betrayal. As produced by Doug Easley, it sounds exactly how an underground sensation's breakthrough album should: bigger and tighter than their earlier material, but not so polished that it will scare away longtime fans. Admittedly, White Blood Cells lacks some of the White Stripes' blues influence and urgency, but it perfects the pop skills the duo honed on De Stijl and expands on them. The country-tinged "Hotel Yorba" and immediate, crazed garage pop of "Fell in Love With a Girl" define the album's immediacy, along with the folky, McCartney-esque "We're Going to Be Friends," a charming, school-days love song that's among Jack White's finest work. However, White's growth as a songwriter shines through on virtually every track, from the cocky opener "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" to vicious indictments like "The Union Forever" and "I Think I Smell a Rat." "Same Boy You've Always Known" and "Offend in Every Way" are two more quintessential tracks, offering up more of the group's stomping riffs and rhythms and us-against-the-world attitude. Few garage rock groups would name one of their most driving numbers "I'm Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman," and fewer still would pen lyrics like "I'm so tired of acting tough/I'm gonna do what I please/Let's get married," but it's precisely this mix of strength and sweetness, among other contrasts, that makes the White Stripes so intriguing. Likewise, White Blood Cells' ability to surprise old fans and win over new ones makes it the Stripes' finest work to date. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 16, 2010 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 1, 2008 | Warner Records

According to Jack White, Get Behind Me Satan deals with "characters and the ideal of truth," but in truth, the album is just as much about what people expect from the White Stripes and what they themselves want to deliver. Advance publicity for the album stated that it was written on piano, marimba, and acoustic guitar, suggesting that it was going to be a quiet retreat to the band's little room after the big sound, and bigger success, of Elephant. Then "Blue Orchid," Get Behind Me Satan's lead single, arrived. A devilish slice of disco-metal with heavily processed, nearly robotic riffs, the song was thrilling, but also oddly perfunctory; it felt almost like a caricature of their stripped-down but hard-hitting rock. As the opening track for Get Behind Me Satan, "Blue Orchid" is more than a little perverse, as though the White Stripes are giving their audience the required rock single before getting back to that little room, locking the door behind them, and doing whatever the hell they want. Even Jack White's work on the Cold Mountain soundtrack and Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose isn't adequate preparation for how far-flung this album is: Get Behind Me Satan is a weird, compelling collection that touches on several albums' worth of sounds, and its first four songs are so different from most of the White Stripes' previous music -- as well as from each other -- that, at first, they're downright disorienting. As if the red herring that is "Blue Orchid" isn't enough warning that Get Behind Me Satan is designed to defy expectations, "The Nurse"'s ironically perky marimbas and off-kilter stabs of drums and guitar -- not to mention lyrics like "the nurse should not be the one who puts salt in your wounds" -- make its domestic skulduggery one of the most perplexing and eerie songs the White Stripes have ever recorded (although Meg's brief cameo, "Passive Manipulation," which boasts the refrain "you need to know the difference between a father and a lover," rivals it). "My Doorbell," on the other hand, is almost ridiculously immediate and catchy, and with its skipping beat and brightly bashed pianos, surprisingly funky. Meanwhile, "Forever for Her (Is Over for Me)" turns cleverly structured wordplay and those fluttering marimbas into a summery, affecting ballad. But despite Get Behind Me Satan's hairpin turns, its inspired imagery and complicated feelings about love hold it together. Though "the ideal of truth" sounds cut-and-dried, the album is filled with ambiguities; even its title, which shortens the biblical phrase "get thee behind me Satan," has a murky meaning -- is it support, or deliverance, from Lucifer that the Stripes are asking for? There are pleading rockers, like the alternately begging and accusatory "Red Rain," and defiant ballads, like "I'm Lonely (But I'm Not That Lonely Yet)," which has a stubborn undercurrent despite its archetypal, tear-in-my-beer country melody. Even Get Behind Me Satan's happiest-sounding song, the joyfully backwoods "Little Ghost," is haunted by loving someone who might not have been there in the first place. The ghostly presence of Rita Hayworth also plays a significant part on the album, on "White Moon" and the excellent "Take, Take, Take," a sharply drawn vignette about greed and celebrity: over the course of the song, the main character goes from just being happy to hanging out with his friends in a seedy bar to demanding a lock of hair from the screen siren. As eclectic as Get Behind Me Satan is, it isn't perfect: the energy dips a little in the middle, and it's notable that "Instinct Blues," one of the more traditionally Stripes-sounding songs, is also one of the least engaging. Though Jack and Meg still find fresh, arty reinterpretations of their classic inspirations, this time the results are exciting in a different way than their usual fare; and while the album was made in just two weeks, it takes awhile to unravel and appreciate. Get Behind Me Satan may confuse and even push away some White Stripes fans, but the more the band pushes itself, the better. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 1, 2008 | Warner Records

Minimal to the point of sounding monumental, this Detroit guitar-drums-voice duo makes the most of its aesthetic choices and the spaces between riffage and the big beat. In fact, the White Stripes sound like arena rock as hand-crafted in the attic. Singer/guitarist Jack White's voice is a singular, evocative combination of punk, metal, blues, and backwoods while his guitar work is grand and banging with just enough lyrical touches of slide and subtle solo work to let you know he means to use the metal-blues riff collisions just so. Drummer Meg White balances out the fretwork and the fretting with methodical, spare, and booming cymbal, bass drum, and snare cracks. In a word, economy (and that goes for both of the players). The Whites' choice of covers is inspired, too. J. White's voice is equally suited to the task of tackling both the desperation of Robert Johnson's "Stop Breakin' Down" and the loneliness of Bob Dylan's "One More Cup of Coffee." Neither are equal to the originals, but they take a distinctive, haunting spin around the turntable nevertheless. All D.I.Y. punk-country-blues-metal singer/songwriting duos should sound this good. ~ Chris Handyside
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 1, 2008 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 11, 2015 | Sub Pop Records

The White Stripes play noisy punk-blues in the vein of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The A-side on this 7", "Party of Special Things to Do," is a skuzzy thump-and-grind number. On the B-side, the band plays scaled-down, back-porch acoustic blues on "China Pig" and then thrashes through a cover of Captain Beefheart's "Ashtray Heart." This record has a noisy, undeniably iconoclastic power, but unfortunately, it seems like you've heard it before. ~ Charles Spano

Alternative & Indie - Released August 12, 2016 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 11, 2007 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 6, 2007 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 18, 2007 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 19, 2008 | Warner Records

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The White Stripes in the magazine
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