Kelly’s Album of the Week: Elephant

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If you were to ask someone who was a teen in the early 2000s what a defining album of their high school years was, they would almost certainly say Elephant by The White Stripes. Jack and Meg White started the twenty-first century out with this rock album that incorporates traditional blues with explosive guitar techniques and simple drumming. This Grammy-winning album shows that two white kids can have the same blues attitude as Robert Johnson.

If you’ve ever been to a sporting event, you’ve heard the infectiously catchy riff of “Seven Nation Army,” which is the first song on Elephant. However, there are many more songs from the album that deserve the same respect. The songs on the album can’t be associated with one sound. From distorted humbuckers on “Black Math”  to piano riffs on “I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother’s Heart,” The White Stripes show that they aren’t confined to one style.

The song, “Ball and Biscuit,” uses the classic blues chord progressions and lyrical style that traditionalists would have used. Lyrics, “Let’s have a ball and a biscuit, sugar,” are an example of the Robert Johnson-style lyrics in the album. “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” has a subtle riff that eventually turns into a high-energy solo, and “In The Cold, Cold Night” features calming lyrics from Meg. The fuzzed humbuckers paired with reverb are a staple of Jack White’s tone. His soloing is anything but perfect, but there’s something nice about the intentional messiness. The drums, played by Meg White, aren’t complex beats by any standards, but they were never intended to be. Part of The White Stripe’s appeal was the juxtaposition of Jack’s excellent guitar playing with Meg’s child-like drumming.

You can hear the influence that Jack White had from punk rock and blues in Elephant. This album is the most commercially successful of The White Stripes’ collection because of its density in great songs. The mixture of these genres is what gives The White Stripes their unique sound. Another thing that makes them unique is their live performances. Jack and Meg seem to have a telepathy onstage, and their shows are almost a battle between musician and instrument.

The White Stripes are an extremely interesting and talented band. From their unique sound to their live performances, they don’t conform to any typical rock styles. There are many more albums other than Elephant, so be sure to check out more of their music.

About the author: As an avid listener of music, guitar player, singer, and band member, I thought it might be fun to give my two cents about music I enjoy. I’m a fan of most genres, but really I just want to hear music with some artistic merit. I hope to get people to listen to music they haven’t heard and see if they like it. Also, feel free to suggest any music for me to listen to.

Kelly’s Album of the Week Archive