Jack and Meg White, the powerful duo that is the White Stripes, are amazing. Last year’s highly acclaimed “White Blood Cells” should have secured that fact in everyone’s minds, and their latest release, “Elephant,” not only strengthens that claim but makes them worthy nominees for anyone’s list of greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands ever.
Marching at the forefront of the army of rock revival bands that stormed onto the music scene in 2002, the White Stripes were one of the few bands who not only not lived up to the hype, but exceeded it.
But the sudden fame and celebrity is starting to take its toll. “Elephant” opens with the words “I’m gonna fight them off. A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back,” reflecting Jack’s frustration at the loss of his right to privacy. “Seven Nation Army” continues, “They’re gonna rip it off. Oh, all the words will bleed from me and I will think no more.” You can’t help sharing Jack’s feelings of oppression and vexation at the media for making his life public property.
The album continues with “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself,” which could be blown off as just another melodramatic break-up song if it weren’t for its wretched, howling distorted guitar riffs and the constant crash of cymbals in the background that make the song feel sincerely tortured and emotionally powerful.
“Elephant” comes to an end eight songs later with the delightfully sappy, tongue-in-cheek, “It’s True That We Love One Another,” which features garage-rock icon Holly Golightly on vocals and has the warm feeling of an evening chat between three old friends on the back porch of a cozy farmhouse.
Overall, “Elephant” is an absorbing collection of delectably raw, churning garage punk, reminiscent at times of the Kinks, the Stooges, and “My Brother The Cow”-era Mudhoney. Definitely an impressive addition to the world of alternative rock. .