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Future Classic Albums of the 21st Century: Elephant - The White StripesAh, the White Stripes. I'd be hard pressed to find a group that has put out a better string of albums than this group's first 4 records. The combination of Jack White's raw, hard-hitting, but catchy production,as well as the clever songwriting involved has turned this group into one of my favorite rock bands ever made. Let's take a look at my favorite of their albums, their 2003 release called Elephant.
Overall, the main theme of this album is pretty easy to grasp. It's about a relationship that's been collapsing for years, describing the inner turmoil going through Jack's mind as he thinks about what went wrong,and what he could've done differently. The writing on this album showcases this, with themes revolving around betrayal, possessiveness, and denial laid out as the final stages of this dying relationship.
Of course, the lyrics aren't the only part of the album that I love. My favorite part of the album is the production. The heavy, unpolished blues-rock that almost sounds like it was played live in a large,empty stadium. Let's go through this album track-by-track and see why this album works as well as it does.
The album gets the listener hooked right from the get-go. The first thing to hit you on the first track, Seven Nation Army, is one of the hardest-hitting,catchiest, bass riffs of the decade, followed by thumping percussion that makes for a great hype anthem. The lyrics fit this description as well, showing Jack's rising anger and his desire to take on this army. Digging deeper, however, it turns out that this song is about the people talking behind his back, spreading rumors about his relationship that threatens to derail it. This really pisses him off, and the production shows it. The guitar solo after that secondverse helps give the song a lot of energy.
However, despite being probably their most successful song, the album offers a lot more than that. Track 2, Black Math, demonstrates Jack's ability tolet loose on the guitar in a fun way. That guitar bounces around playfully, especially during the solo. Jack himself also seems to behaving a lot of fun in this song, though he admits that he should probably be focusing on other things, mainly his homework and his relationship (which is most likely one of the reasons the relationship is failing in the first place).
This attitude of just having fun with the instrumentals extends to a lot of the songs on this album, including Ball And Biscuit (a full-blown blues-rock track, complete with several instrumental passages that sound like they were freestyled like a lot of blues/jazz tracks), and the fast rocker Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine.
Throughout even thefun songs, however, there's that sense of something not quite being right. That sense of the relationship slipping further and further towards that point of no return. Even the aforementioned Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine gives the sense that the girl is distrustful of what he's trying to pull.
This feeling of something being wrong especially becomes apparent in slower tracks like You've Got Her In Your Pocket, a fascinating song where Jack'stalking to himself about his tendency to become way too possessive,and not really being sure of whether that's a good thing or not. It's kind of unsettling. And the song In The Cold, Cold Night with Meg White on vocals that contains lyrics about loving Jack forever,but even she sounds unconvinced, and the cold, minimalist instrumentals filled with reverb also help show that this isn't going to turn out well.
All of these uncertain feelings come together in the final track, Well It's TrueThat We Love One Another. At first glance, it's an extremely corny country-ish song about 2 people declaring their undying love for each other, but that really isn't the case. There are several cues like“I love Jack White like a little brother”, and the overall tone of the song is very forced, as if they're trying to convince each other that it isn't over, but at the end they're resigned to finally calling it quits, much to the relief of their friends. I used to despise this song, thinking it was the corniest song ever written,but it's the kind of song that becomes a lot better the more you pickup on what they're actually saying.
Honestly, this is one of those albums that really grows after repeated listens, and more details become apparent the more you analyze it. I've only scratched the surface here (only discussed a few of the tracks), but this is an album that comes together extremely well both in the writing and instrumentation. If you're a fan of rock in general,this is an album that I'd highly recommend.
Great review, I'm almost convinced to check it out! - WonkeyDude98
I'll check them out! - ProPanda
Best Songs: All of them
Worst Songs: none of them
Seven Nation Army is their best song. - ProPanda