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4.5 out of 5 stars
Elephant
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2003
After three albums you wonder exactly what a guitarist and a drummer can do to keep things moving forward whilst maintaining the brilliance of previous efforts. The fact that creatively they have moved forward and musically they have exceeded any hopes I had of their forth album just shows how special The White Stripes really are.
Elephant IS quite simply one of the finest records you will hear this year. As if Jack's heart was actually plugged into the amp it will take on a roller coaster journey that will leave you exhausted at the end. We are taken back to the rawer guitar sound of De Stijl and with a number of tracks like Ball & Biscuit, Black Math and Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine rocking some amazing guitar work you can see that Jack is really having some fun on this record. The Stripes seem to be enjoying their new found fame rather than resenting it and with Elephant you can see how it's paid off. It is such an accomplished album that will be throttling your stereo all summer.
Elephant proves beyond any doubt that The White Stripes are in a league of their own. All the hype and all the praise wouldn't be enough to describe how important this band are to music. God bless the drums, god bless the guitar, god bless The White Stripes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Looking at the group's back catalogue, (so much so quickly !), there's been no difficulty finding wildly varying songs, tunes and themes. Elephant has a similar wide range and most of it is effortlessly good. Reviewers of the CD version are confused on what they want from the White Stripes: Live with it, I say - for this quality. Yes I did love the first and last sides of four most of all, with a bit too much "quietly reflective" for me near the middle, when the writing quality waned perhaps?. Seven Nation Army, The Hardest Button and Hypnotize will all one day be considered classics; I think they are already.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2003
So, suddenly, with “Elephant” The White Stripes finally have to tackle the weight of expectation.
The release of this record is, perhaps for the first time, A Very Big Deal. This is no minor, low key indie release - every fashion/lifestyle/music magazine, website, radio show, newspaper and TV programme that thinks it matters has an opinion they want to share about the band and this record.
John Peel sessions, releasing “De Stijl” on an obscure American label, their first small live review in the NME – it all seems a long time ago now; and whilst the interest in them has grown, The Stripes, as you would perhaps expect, haven’t. The premise, if you want to call it that, remains the same. A boy plays guitar and sings whilst his ex-wife/sister/whatever plays the drums. They still wear red and white and shun glossy production.
There’s something incredibly satisfying with “Elephant”, in that the band have stayed more or less rooted to the spot. Rather than grow into something to please journalists they’ve done exactly the same thing once again, only much, much better. Most bands, as we know, who stick to a particular ‘template’ will eventually get criticised for it, but in this instance – when the music is so dramatic, so melodic and so exciting - it honestly doesn’t matter.
“Seven Nation Army” is a blunt, but extremely cool opening, with an exceptional, but simplistic, ‘bass-line-but-wait-it’s-not’ riff. You’ve barely had time to start nodding in admiration before “Black Math” (with a rowdy see-saw riff and crashing drums) and “There Is No Room For You Here” (glam, wailing multi-track vocals) arrive. Both are so brash and vitriolic it’s beautiful (top marks incidentally for “Black Math”, which brilliantly veers off on a mad tangent mid way only to return again).
The pace then slows, but significantly does not slacken, with the records gentler moments, namely: “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”, “In The Cold Cold Night” (go Meg!), “I Want To Be The Boy…” and “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket”. It’s a sweet run of songs, all considerably more introspective than the record’s introduction, and all are of amazing quality.
The 7 minute monster “Ball & Biscuit” then arrives and cuts this particular mood dead in its tracks, and signals the arrival of the records rowdy final third – “Hardest Button To Button” is an amazing stomper, and the remaining songs fly past with aggression and zeal. Fantastic. Finally, the cute “Well It’s True…” is a simplistic, goofy, kiss off.
It’s a wonderfully diverse record. Or, to put it more simply – amazing sound, amazing songs, amazing band.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2003
One would wonder how long the Jack White and Meg White "are they really brother and sister" scenario could go on. But, with the music they are making, who even really cares?
Judging from the Stripes' two previous records, "White Blood Cells" and "De Stjil", it is apparant that the bands playing has evolved. They have come a long way since just being "ANOTHER GARAGE ACT" days of when their debut arrived. But, be in no illusions, this is the White Stripes at their best.
If you are one of those people who has heard any of their previous three albums and wondering why all the fuss, this probably won't explain it to you. If you are expecting a radical change of style in musical direction you'll be disappointed. But, if you want more of the same but different, then you will adore this.
Still refusing to use the bass instrument in their sound, Elephant does have some bassy riffs. For example, Seven Nation Army has a bass riff right? Wrong. It's Jack playing guitar with some pedal and gear effects. Now while the concept of not using bass seems stupid it actually adds to the duos appeal.
Anyway, the songs all range from different things. You get the Led Zeppelin-ish tunes and you get the Queen-ish tunes. But, somehow and to the bands asset, they seem to be totally original songs. The last track on the album, "Well Its True That We Love One Another", is, oddly, a standout. It features Jack and Holly Golightly on vocals with a little of Meg added for flavour. It's a tongue-in-cheek number that with any other band you would have thought it terrible but, with the Stripes, it's amazing. That really sums up the album. I really dont need to explain all the songs to you. It's more of the same, but a lot better.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2004
The White Stripes are a duo who record all their material on old analog recording equipment and refuse to embrace the digital revolution. The result? An album that sounds warmer and more real than just about anything that has been around in years!
That's no exageration either, as this album just exudes a sound that is sadly being left in the past. There are not multiple takes to get the playing perfect either; all the little imperfections in the playing and singing are left in, so it doesn't have the cold feel that most music has now.
The song are great too, starting with "Seven Nation Army", with a catchy bass line that gets the groove going, and then they just keep coming. Meg duets on "I Just Don't Know What to do With Myself", which wrenches the emotion from the words. "Ball and Biscuit" is my favourite - a kind of 21 century blues that Led Zep would be proud of.
The only thing that puzzles me about this album is why there is a picture of Meg's feet on the inside of the cover...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2003
.....although its still not perfect.
I had to give Elephant four stars because of the soul stirring genius of the first three tracks, Ball and Biscuit and The Air Near My Fingers. Furthermore, Seven Nation Army is an excellent choice for the lead single, and has convinced a certain Led Zep obsessed mate of The White Stripes value to society, which is an achievement in itself.
It is almost impossible to pick a stand out track from those five, but probably the most exciting moments of the album are when Jack makes his guitar sing like an angel on ball and biscuit.
However, owning the previous three records is a bit of a disadvantage, in that the riff on Black Math is Build a home from De Stilj, and the one on There's No Home for you Here is, as everyone says, Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground.
Oh, and Meg can only just sing. She pulls it off on In the Cold Cold Night, but is pretty ropey on the final track. Which is not a brilliant track to start with.
Neither are the two "slow" tracks, 6 and 7. Sometimes the slow tracks work, like Little People and We're going to be friends, but these two don't really. Its hard to say why. Maybe if jack whites isn't being passionate, he's not very exciting?
But, all is forgiven. The good outway the bad, and in impressive fashion. When it works, it works so well that the occasional weak track is irrelevant.
Buy it. And the other records. Now.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2003
White Blood Cells made The White Stripes big stars but the follow-up Elephant makes them global superstars, and one listen to it and it's difficult not to agree with NME and Kerrang. Since it's such a great album it's only fitting for a track by track analysis:
Seven Nation Army- lead off single and possibly the greatest tune to be released in 2003, the unlikely bassline and rolling percusion make it a classic 10/10
Black Math- this sounds like a robert plant/led zeppelin inspired tune,with Jack howling at the same tempo but it's still a great tune 8/10
There's No Room For You Here- this one doesn't quite catch my attention like the rest, it sounds too similar to dead leaves, so it's not too good 5/10
I Just Don't What To Do With Myself- cover of the burt bacharach anthem and one of the shortest songs, great video accompanied it as well. a knock out cry , sweet stuff 9/10
In The Cold, Cold Night- Meg's Debut on vocals on this acoustic driven tune about love,and surprisingly it's quite catchy but the vocals are best with her brother 7/10
I Want To Warm Your Mothers Heart- this is a somber sad little number about gaining the adulation of a partner's parent, not the best of songs, but still great 6/10
You've Got Her In Your Pocket - more somber songs, but this one is more uplifting making it more enjoyable than the previous one 7/10
Ball and Biscuit- a brilliant track, a long track, great solos, enough said 10/10
The Hardest Button To Button- current single and personal favourite, everything here is brilliant another classic courtesy of The White Stripes 10/10
Little Acorns- a reporter kicks this off which seems strange but it works anyways, Jack's vocals go really funny on this one. weird stuff 9/10
Hypnotize- the shortest song, but one of the best 9/10
The Air Near My Fingers- i think this is my mum's favourite, and i can't blame her, it's just like seven nation army, brilliant 10/10
Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine- the most rock bluesy song on the album, but it seems too overhyped making somewhat of a dissapointment 4/10
Well It's True We Love One Another- this is where the british references come into play, with Holly Golightly guesting on vocals with Jack and Meg, this is the perfect end to a perfect album
why are you reading this??? just buy it!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I brought this album on a whim after hearing 7 Nation Army, and I'm glad I did. I really like their type of music as its not like anything I’ve heard before, the way id describe it is mellow rock, doesn't seem as heavy as some other bands.
I even found a song i had been searing for, for ages n ages, the song in question 'I just don’t know what to do with myself' which is a cover, but a good one I think, unusual.
I've read a few reviews saying they're just amatures, well arnt they all at some point? and what defines an amature, has anyone considered that it might be the sound their going for? Not perfectly crisp and ironed at the sides? So dont pay attention to too many reviews, dont forget we're all indervidual and so have different tastes.
I have friends who are into the same kind of music as me but dislike the white stripes, so i say this to potential buyers, find someone with a copy and listen to it if you’re not sure. But I’ll be trying their earlier work in their near future!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2003
Pardon the unoriginal title:). When Seven Nation Army was released the airwaves were being flooded with the manufactured likes of Christina Aguilera and 50 Cent. So the White Stripes were hugely refreshing in that they stripped away the overproduction and brought the music back to its bare essentials. The result is a raw, often joyous and always heartfelt album. You must have heard Seven Nation Army by now; when I first heard it I was strongly reminded of the Beatles(the Lennon side). It is the only track that sounds like the Beatles. The rest of the songs are influenced by bands from the '70s, blues and occasionally country music. The White Stripes are not to be compared to all these other 'The' bands. The Strokes are pretty OK, the Hives I haven't heard yet and the Vines really suck. All in all I would really recommend this album if you're sick and tired of Britney and the like and want to enjoy some honest music.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2003
After De Stijl, my expectations for the White Stripes were very high. It is a classic. But, admittedly, their last album left me somewhat disappointed. The scratchy guitar sound that in many ways has defined the White Stripes sound was overcooked and many of the songs were disappointing (eg. Aluminium). I doubted the ability of a band with no bass player to produce the sounds that make legendary rock music. However, Elephant has managed to accomplish this. Combining some of the best aspects of each of their previous albums and still keeping it unwaveringly personal, whilst producing perhaps their best tunes, lyrics and beats to date is some achievement.
The riffs in Seven Nation Army, Ball and Biscuit, The Hardest Button to Button and the Air Near My Fingers are spectacular with their deep beats and, especially in Ball and Biscuit, the quality of Jack’s guitar skills are incredible. Meanwhile, the delicate tunes of In the Cold Cold Night (sung by Meg) and I Want To Be the Boy add another dimension to the range of music on display. Black Math shows Jack’s eccentricity with its varied rhythms and his abuse of his vocal cords. Reminder of White Blood Cells possibly.
Personally, I am confused as to why Jack has covered Burt Bacharach’s I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself. The other 13 tracks leave you in a diverse and unflinching state that is the White Stripes’ bizarre and brilliant world. Perhaps it is autobiographical to some extent, but it reminds me of Cameron Diaz’s feeble efforts to sing the same song in a Karaoke bar in ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’. Still, the personal anguish portrayed in his performance mean many people love his version.
Little Acorns and It’s True That We Love Each Other are the finishing touches which give the album the character and individuality we’ve come to expect from the White Stripes. There’s No Room For You Here and Hypnotize make up the quality line-up on Elephant, each truly original and excellently executed.
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