We're trying something new here. This is a conversation between myself (noted below as Mr.D in red) and Dr. Max H (noted below as Max H in blue) regarding the new White Stripes record Icky Thump. The conversation is real, and only midly edited for space, good taste, and to make us look less like idiots. Enjoy.
Artist: White Stripes
Album: Icky Thump
Max H: My brotha.
Mr. D: Maxwell. You ready for this?
Max H: Lets do this like a prison break.
Mr. D: How's that? Loud, messy, and with lots of shiving?
Max H: Mmmmm, shiving.
Max H: I’d like to start things off by saying that Jack and Meg should just get it over and
come out with a sex tape.
Mr. D: That'd be a pretty taboo sex tape, no? What with the whole sister / lover thing?
Max H: Incestuous rock n' roll.
Mr. D: Are you surprised to see Jack back with the White Stripes? It seemed to me that he'd outgrown that shtick a little bit and I fully expected he'd be a Raconteur for the rest of his life, for better or worse.
Max H: I think he's very much in love with the White Stripes, and think that might be kind of an ego thing. The Raconteurs were a band, but The White Stripes is Jack White, and I think he enjoys that spotlight.
Mr. D: You’re right about that. Meg White brings nothing, NOTHING to the table. But then again, she doesn’t really have to. She’s just there for Jack to have something play off of, I think
Max H: You're right, and they do have great chemistry. It shines through on Icky Thump as well as it has on any of their pervious stuff. Lots of monster guitar riffs over loud, jamming drumbeats.
Mr. D: Speaking of the old stuff, do you know anything about their post White Blood Cells stuff? I listened to Elephant a few times, but I never caught on to Get Behind Me Satan.
Max H: Get Behind Me Satan was, without a doubt, a setback in the White Stripes catalogue. Interesting, but lacking in substance and, for the most part, boring.
Max H: On Icky Thump we see a lot of new territory. Jack White’s first political statements are all over the title track. He comes off smart and funny rather than whiny….
Mr. D: ….Which is a tough thing to do with his voice. I haven't really looked too far into the lyrics in “Icky Thump”, but I think it is an interesting choice for first single. Bold at best and foolish at worst, but interesting none the less. It is polarizing to me, and the keyboard riffing might be much for some people. At the same time, it’s the most alive I've heard J White sound since “7 Nation Army”. And when the man is into it, he is FUCKING in to it.
Max H: Haha. That’s funny that you say that, because he's recently quit smoking to improve his vocals. Jack isn’t known for his voice. But, yeah, I agree. There are definitely better choices on the album for the first single.
Mr. D: So what do you make of "Conquest" and that other Celtic sounding song, “Prickly Thorne, But Sweetly Worn”?
Max H: I was feeling it, man! On Get Behind Me Satan, Jack was exploring with marimbas and shit like that, and it came across as filler and uninteresting. On the other hand, the mariachi horns and bagpipes on Icky Thump really bring something to the table. Those two Celtic songs right in a row in the middle of the album are real psychedelic. They break the album up nicely.
Mr. D: I’ll tell you, at first I was not all about it. My first impression was that he was out of ideas, so he was fucking around with some other stuff that sounded okay, but came off to me as somewhat desperate. But now it’s grown on me, and it’s one of my favorites on the album. That second song is ass, however.
Max H: Haha. To each his own.
Max H: What's your favorite track?
Mr. D: It’s another one that I thought was stupid at first; that blues-y one, “Rag and Bone”
Max H: Haha, I thought that song was cute.
Mr. D: Cute? You did not just say cute.
Max H: It was adorable, is that better?
Mr. D: I guess it’s better, but not by much.
Max H: We've got a little negative Nancy over here. Either way, I love when Meg gets into the singing. If you play the record real loud, you can hear Meg harmonizing on a bunch of the songs.
Mr. D: Listen, you being a girl aside, you’re right about Meg. It is nice when she gets into it. I like how her voice plays off Jack. Ying and Yang sort of thing.
Max H: I’m kind of sensing you don’t think much of the album on whole?
Mr. D: No, I do like it! I think it’s their best since White Blood Cells by far, and I like that they keep moving their music moving forward, even thought it’s just the two of them.
Max H: I think it’s as good as any record they've made and, one of the best albums of the year so far. Toss up between Icky Thump, Neon Bible, and All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone.
Mr. D: Now I’m not quite with you on that. This strikes me as the kind of album that needs to get some momentum to really be appreciated, and for me, as of right now it’s not one of the best. I can see it growing on me in the future though.
Max H: They should have released "You Don't Know What Love Is" as a single. It’s a great pop song with some awesome guitar. And speaking of awesome guitar, “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” blew my mind apart.
Mr. D: I’m still not sure Jack is as great a guitarist as people say he is, but he does do some pretty neat stuff on this record.
Max H: You need to check out their live DVD, Under Blackpool Lights....It’s pretty convincing. It’ll remove any doubt from your mind. He’s the real deal.
Mr. D: So what would you give this record out of 10?
Max H: 8.5; I think the most significant thing about this album is the way it proves the inferiority of the Raconteurs.
Mr. D: Meh, I never took them seriously, they were just some fun thing to do.
Max H: Yeah, never made me stiff
Mr. D: Hah! I’m going to go with 7.5; for pushing things forward, but losing a little tenderness along the way.
Max H: What do you mean?
Mr. D: One thing I always liked about the Stripes is that no matter how reckless the songs got, no matter how raunchy, there were always the tender tracks to ground the record. Those were always my favorite ones, and that is kind of missing here.
Max H: Oh so you're looking for a "You've Got Her in Your Pocket" or "I Think We're Going to be Friends"
Mr. D: Exactly.
Max H: Well I think a lot of hardcore Stripes fans are going to like the way this album kicks you in the balls. This is some heavy, groovy, bluesy shit. And like you said, its real impressive the way they've pushed forward... they could have chosen to keep things retro and do some house covers for the rest of their career, but they've decided to redefine rock n' roll in production and songwriting. Exceeded expectations.
Mr. D: Any last words?
Max H: My thought to leave you with is this: when I finish listening to this album, all I can do is hope that Jack invests a majority of his focus in this project. It would be for the better
Mr. D: And my final though is this: whether or not you like the direction that they're going in, this proves that the White Stripes are more than just a shtick; they aren’t going away. When they put their minds to it, they can make some damn fine music.
Max H: If this was their last album, what would their place be in rock n' roll history?
Mr. D: That’s an argument for another day.
Dr. Max Rating: 8.5
Mr. Dogg Rating: 7.5
Total Rating: 8 out of 10
Key Tracks: Icky Thump, Rag and Bone, Prickly Thorn, but Sweetly Worn, Conquest, You Don't Know What Love Is.
Worth The Money: Yes