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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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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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on 9 April 2003
As the music press continue to salivate over and bray about a seemingly endless supply of mediocre new acts to add to their 'New Rock Revolution', it is of huge relief that the king and queen of garage rock have returned to underline just what makes a great album.
Whilst living up to the incredibly popular White Blood Cells seemed a huge task, the White Stripes have effortlessly surpassed themselves and raised the bar for similar acts to follow once more. Where WBC was structured around a core 4 or 5 songs (most of which were later released as singles), Elephant eshews this in favour of a tighter more 'complete' album. Unlike its predecessor, Elephant mesmerises the listener until the final adieu of 'Well It's True That We Love One Another', each track perfectly encapsulating the anguish and humour of Jack's lyrical outbursts. The American Gothic visions he conjures are propelled by the familiar Stripes' soundscapes taken to the Nth degree. First single, and album opener 'Seven Nation Army' sets the tone with a bass line sure to become an indie classic. 'Ball and Biscuit' sees Jack bursting into Hendrix-esque guitar solos, whilst 'Hypnotize' and its thunderous wave of sound would not have sounded out of place on QOTSA's last effort. A gloriously cheesy spoken introduction opens 'Little Acorns', only for it to degenerate into a blur of guitars, drums and unhingend vocals. It all seems a mile away from WBC's series of simple (though effective) riffs. Add to this sonic assault manic chanting (on There's No Home for You Here'), self deprecating dialogue (Well It's True...) and the requisite piano and you have an album which never risks slipping into repetition. As with previous WS albums, it is often the quieter, less abrupt tracks which emerge as true gems upon repeated listening. 'In the Cold, Cold Night', which has Meg stepping up to the microphone is one such treasure, openly displaying the fragile beauty which underpins many of the songs.
Elephant then is truly the pinnacle of the Stripes career thus far. An album of honesty, warmth, and on occasion riot inducing rock n roll. And Burt Bacharach ('Just Don't Know What to do With Myself' -previously seen as a B side to Fell In Love With a Girl). Essential.
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on 3 April 2003
Holy God!!! Ryan Adams was right in his statement that this could possibly be the "greatest rock album of all time." This cd is White Blood Cells times 20 and is of godly Led Zepplin-quality. Believe the hype on this bad boy, this one's going down in the history books. This cd was recorded with primitive 8-track recording equipment older than what the Beatles' used. Songs like Black Math, there's no home for you here, ball and biscuit, girl, you have no faith in medicine, seven nation army, and the fun finale "well it's true that we love one another" are some of the highlights from this timeless cd. And "I just don't know what to do with myself" is an absolutely priceless cover of the Burt Bacharach song.
All the tracks have much more depth (and bass) than Meg and Jack's earlier work. They display a greater musical range and Jack performs some killer guitar work. The intelligent songwriting and brilliant lyrics are also another highlight of the cd. Influences jump from Iggy and the Stooges, Zepplin, Queen, Dylan, old school blues, and even some Velvet Underground is thrown in the mix. "There's no home for you here" sounds like Freddie Mercury on acid!!! It just blows my mind how good this cd is!!!! A landmark achievement.
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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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on 16 February 2004
i had heard a couple of songs off white blood cells but i never went any further. when i heard seven nation army i knew i had to buy elephant, and what a purchase. the most exciting album i have heard since nirvana's in utero. "little acorns" is for me the best track. jacks guitar hits you right in the chest and shows how rock and roll still has a few tricks up its sleeve.in contrast "you've got her in your pocket" is a beautiful little number and along with "hypnotize" are the other stand out tracks.i dont know how many times i have kicked myself for ignoring these guys for so long but believe the hype for a change and buy their music, become excited and passionate about music again.
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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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on 7 April 2003
Jack White says he loves this record and it's the best since their first album. I don't know whether I agree with the second statement yet but I'm definitely beginning to come round to the first. This is a great album.
Seven Nation Army, The Air Near My Fingers, I Just Don't Know What to do With Myself and You've Got Her In Your Pocket are my favourites right now. Well It's True is a catchy song that shows Jack's sense of humour. The Burt Bacharach cover is brilliant, loads of feeling. In The Cold Cold Night is a good track, and Meg has a sweet voice.
I think the style of 7 Nation and The Air... is a little different, so maybe there is some progression here from their normal sound despite the Stripes' denials and the opinions of reviewers. I admit on the whole it's similar to the rest of their stuff, but with 'stuff' like they have, who's complaining?
This is a brilliant CD. It's probably a fairly good one to start with if you don't have any WS stuff already -(although shame on you for following the hype and even thinking about buying this one before the first album!!!.... ok I admit I did that last year with White Blood Cells, that's how I got into them...shhh...)- because it gives a comprehensive view of their style and their flexibility.
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on 3 March 2006
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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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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