Icky thump...who'd have thunk?
You may have read that 'Icky Thump' is The White Stripes UK album and on a few listens, that appears to be correct. The lead single and title track originates from the North of England, Jack and Meg are done up like Pearly Kings and Queens and the Scottish references and bagpipes pepper the record giving it a rather familiar air. Strange then that the lead track from the album is the most American, looking at its own borders while also giving Jack time to dig out some lyrical favourites.
They continue to push their sound out a bit with every record but the fans have nothing to worry about, the venom and power remains in the spitting vocals and the pounding drums and the clean guitar riff shows that Mr. White still remains at the top of his game. Of course, the other sounds that the duo are now peppering their songs with throws in a few more influences and the eery stylophone sound in the middle breaks the track up well.
Jack may be married to a red-headed model (and Meg does greatly suit the red-head look in the new video) but throughout the years there's been a few references to red-head ladies from Jack and 'Icky Thump' gets the new album's first reference over and done with quickly. As stated, Jack's wife is a redhead but we wouldn't play devil's advocate and point out that Marcie from The Von Bondies is as well.
Another lyrical barb thrown in by Jack centres around the history of Americans which stands at conflict with their current viewpoint of outsiders and immigrants. The White Stripes have always carried a slight political edge (maybe more based at a local level as opposed to national or international concerns) but in a small throwaway line, the band quickly spit out an opinion on what they're seeing in their home land.
It's not going to change them into a Live 8 headlining act but for all the naysayers who consistently deride Jack and Meg for being one-trick ponies forever stuck in the past have completely missed the point.
Good, and for that reason, it's a pleasure to have the two of them back.