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Jack White's Faustian Bargain

So Jack White produced a successful country record? Country sucks. And he won some kind of Grammy for Elephant? Grammies suck. He was in Cold Mountain? He probably sucked. The White Stripes pioneered that "garage" music movement? I'm bored with garage bands. So, now the White Stripes have another album coming out? And the single is named after an orchid? All right, queue the backlash...

On June 7th, 2005, the White Stripes release their fifth studio LP, Get Behind Me Satan. And I was wondering how a two-piece band could mathematically avoid repeating itself. But I'm not wondering long. Blue Orchid is two and a half minutes of gloss-rock bliss.

Based on a riff that sounds like a highschooler who got his pedals before he learned his chords, the song takes all of four seconds before you actually physically smile. The minimal notes are beefed up, Lita Ford-style, to a new ridiculous level. Then, the vocals come on like a 1983 Kiss cover band rehearsal: Paul Stanley falsetto, but with miles of attitude that would probably melt off any make up. Finally, Meg gives the Stripe's signature throbbing kick bass intro some friends: a high hat, among other fat banging racket. Put them together and you've got the recipe for this summer's cock rock soundtrack.

So, how exactly does a song named after a flower have so much balls? Who cares? I can only hope that the rest of Get Behind Me Satan sounds like an Iron Maiden demo. But it doesn't. The Nurse comes on with unbalanced marimba percussion and intermittent power notes. I think, "OK, this is the one no one likes at first." Fine. Then My Doorbell chimes in. Who's there? The catchiest chorus in the history of music, that's who.

A couple of acoustic sing-a-long romps later, and we're neck deep in another funkatron: The Denial Twist. If you're not tapping your foot to this one, you better be in a wheelchair, because the alternative is that you are completely soulless.

The album ends on another high note with the closer I'm Lonely But I Ain't That Lonely Yet. Hunky Dory style piano with Hank Williams borrowed themes. Drunk and alone, that theme will actually never get tired.

Get Behind Me Satan isn't the uniformed outing that other White Stripes efforts have been. There's shoddy-blues, polished piano pop, broken down dirges, acoustic fireside numbers, as well as couple of signature Stripes two-minute massacres. Definitely not Elephant Redux. But not a Kid A type of artistic bore-fest either. Just Jack White doing what massive scary talents do: make good art. He's brilliant. So the album is obviously good. As good as the other albums? Somewhere in the middle (which is still two stars above any other band right now.)

Get Behind Me Satan is released on June 7th. You know you're going to get it. You can't not like these guys. Guitars, piano, and drums. Come on.


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