Get Behind Me Satan

As a band, The White Stripes are limited by their line-up, obviously. Jack White can sing, play guitar and piano. Meg plays drums. Previously, we’ve seen such albums as ‘White Blood Cells’ concentrate almost exclusively on the bashing drums, bashing guitar and screamed vocals White Stripes sound. ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ contains less guitar than any previous Stripes effort. Jack plays lots of piano. Additional instrumentation is added in the form of glockenspiel, etc, etc. Color is added, shade and variety. Acoustic guitar embellishments over electric. A few more typical Stripes efforts included as well, obviously. As a reminder to myself how far The White Stripes now seem to have come is ludicrous. Also ludicrous is a rumor I heard that Jack was going to scrap this entire album until ‘Blue Orchid’ arrived at the last moment. As if that was somehow proof that this is the weakest Stripes effort yet. I read that in a review that was less than pleased with this new LP. Pants to them, I love this album, can’t stop listening to it, and it has far surpassed my expectations. First single ‘Blue Orchid’ is deceptively familiar to previous Stripes efforts. It may disappoint you, but this two-minute long single that ends abruptly is just a scene setter. We progress from there to the likes of the acoustic guitar plus bongos ‘Little Ghost’. A proper, genuine song that doesn’t rely on furious electric thrills and comes across as that much more charming and genuine and timeless as a result. It’s captivating simple, as many of the songs here are. In more familiar Stripes mode is ‘My Doorbell’, piano instead of guitar, those delightful ‘meg moments’. A repeated refrain, “I’ve been thinking about my doorbell”. What more do you need?

The slightly strange and disconcerting ‘The Nurse’ encompasses all the differences between this White Stripes effort and all of the others. Strange instrumentation, quite bare. Very quiet, then come in random brief drum bursts that seem at odds with everything else. The vocals and lyrics are interesting, the words are great. Meg does these huge drum and symbol bursts. It’s great! The thirty-four second long, meg sang ‘Passive Manipulation’ is typical of this albums desire to provide the listener with surprise and variety. Not that ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ varies in sound and style hugely from one song to the next. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got 13 songs here that form a very cohesive whole. That’s much of the reason I love this record. Yet, we don’t get bogged down in song after song sounding exactly the same, repeating the same guitar tone yet with varying degrees of anger. Instead, we get the likes of ‘White Moon’. Mournful sounding, yet with meg providing a degree of light and shade, hard and soft. ‘Instinct Blues’ takes the original White Stripes blues influences that were sometimes obscured on the last couple of LPs and takes them to another level. 21st century blues, for certain. Finally, I’ll mention ‘As Ugly As I Seem’. A country/folk/blues sing along that ties together varies stylistic and genre strands and has been recorded so cheaply and naturally that it could have been recorded at any time 1969 onwards. That’s talent. Jack White’s knack of writing songs that sound so very simple in structure yet they just do draw you in. That’s talent. This strangely downbeat and slightly angry, yet not obviously as in your face anger as other White Stripes efforts ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ is something that no other current band could produce. They’ve finally forged their own utterly unique sound and scene.

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