The White Stripes

Record Review

Phases and Stages

The White Stripes

Elephant (V2)

Blind parasites buzz and crawl over the living-earth hide of this Elephant, feeling the back-end millennia's worth of evolution that became this beast: Flat Duo Jets, Doo Rag, JSBX, Fat Possum Records. Simple, primal: bass -- yes, bass -- guitar, and drums. A couple of circus clowns named Jack and Meg. Up flies the freak-flag trumpet call of opener "Seven Nation Army," hacksawed by the distorted down-stroke that follows on "Black Math." Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" recalls the Stones' "Back Street Girl" getting assaulted by Ziggy's spiders from Mars, not to be confused with the frozen butterflies of Meg's "In the Cold, Cold Night." Jack's lonely Wayne Coyne whine on "I Want to Be the Boy" and "You've Got Her in Your Pocket" gets upended by Elephant's seven-minute headstand, "Ball and Biscuit," which pushes the big echo bash of White Blood Cells' "Expecting" further up Zeppelin Kimbrough's Red Houses of the Unholy. The narco Clash throb of "The Hardest Button to Button," Jack taking a sip from Britt Daniel's spit cup, skids into the J. Geils' "No Anchovies Please" intro to downed power line "Little Acorns." Motor City shakedown "Girl You Have No Faith in Medicine" burns down the hospice. Finally, Holly Golightly tames this Elephant with a closing duet ditty. A baby elephant still, bigger, brighter than its two siblings, but it's in your kitchen, and it ain't leaving anytime soon.

*** .5

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