The White Stripes - White Blood Cells

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:2002-11-18

Rock & roll is constantly splintering into multiple personalities. While the big radio players layer thick slabs of studio shine on their albums, The White Stripes' White Blood Cells keeps the sound so raw it rubs calluses on your ears. The duo strips down to the fundamentals of Meg White's simple drumbeat and Jack White's garagy guitar and pleading vocals. While the elements are sparse, the Detroit act create a noisy, hip-grinding batch of punk R&B, displayed again on the Stripes' third full-length. While it's hard to pick favourites from such talent, this band only gets better with time. White's vocals were sounding like a young Robert Plant on De Stijl--definitely not a bad thing--but on Cells, he's developed his own persona. He throws musical fits on "Fell in Love with a Girl", gets almost loungy on the piano number "This Protector", and keeps the blues vibe running on "Now Mary". The album is so rich with basic variations on a simple theme it's hard to believe such soulful energy comes from just two people. White Blood Cells is an amazing piece of work, a benchmark that ought to inspire new legions of garage rockers for years to come. The limited-edition DVD version of the album features two previously unreleased tracks and four videos. --Jennifer Maerz

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