The White Stripes - 'Elephant'

Title: Elephant
Artist: The White Stripes
Date: 2003
Genre: Garage, Punk Blues, Alt Rock

Total length: 50 minutes, 14 tracks

Main personnel:
Jack White: Guitar, Vocals
Meg White: Drums, Vocals (Track 5)

Rating: 8/10

One of the most impressive aspects of this album in my opinion is the fact that despite the heavy use of distortion the sound quality is usually not compromised (except for Ball and Biscuit and Black Math). Far too often when heavily distorted guitars are used the sound signature takes on a harsh or piercing character, but in this case the sound signature is very warm. Additionally too much distortion can make the stereo image die.

The album starts with a very famous bass line on the track 'Seven Nation Army'. This is the most engaging track on the entire album, and provides a very nice contrast to the slower tracks on the album. It's almost impossible not to bob your head to the beat when you hear this track. Additionally some of the guitar parts are in one word 'awesome'. I can't say I find the lyrics very impressive on the other hand.

Unfortunately not all tracks are as interesting as Seven Nation Army. The track 'Black Math' for example left me quite bored. The sonic imaging is lost in a sea of too much distortion, and the vocals are annoying too. Overall I'm not such a big fan of tracks like this and I find that it feels like a filler compared to some of the other tracks on this album.

A nice contrast to the quicker paced tracks is the almost lullaby-like 'In the Cold, Cold Night'. On this track Meg does the vocals, and in comparison to Jack's voice hers is much softer. This track does not have any drums, and as a result the track does not engage the listener as much. I personally really like this track, as it shows a very different side of the duo's capabilities.
Another track with a similar feel is 'You've Got Her in Your Pocket'. However that track didn't really impress me as much as 'In the Cold, Cold Night'.

A track that also really stood out to me on this album is 'Little Acorns'. It starts out with a somewhat humorous speech, but then suddenly the duo comes in with an extremely impactive part. Just like 'Seven Nation Army' I can only describe this track with the word 'awesome'. One thing that I didn't like however is the dynamic compression on this track. It would have been much more awesome with a higher dynamic range. This is an excellent example of how the loudness war has raped fine music.

Overall I found this album to be very enjoyable to listen to, especially due to the nice contrast between some of the most impactive tracks I've ever heard and the softer parts. If it weren't for the sometimes over use of distortion and dynamic compression I would have definitely given it a 9/10.

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Nice review, but to be honest, I think you could have spent more time writing it. That's because you simply skipped or didn't say enough about a lot of good songs such as Ball and Biscuit, The Hardest Button to Button, Hypnotize, Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine, etc.
    While you described the sound of it, it would have been nice to see you go more deeper into the lyrics. Also, you talk about songs such as Black Math as boring and containing too much distortion. This is just that same impression the song has to give, much like the band you showed me, "Death From Above 1979", where it doesn't necessarily follow a beautiful melody, but instead makes up for it with sheer badass-ness and killer riffs. I like though how you mentioned that this album contains a parallel softer side to the heavier songs, and that's what makes it so nice and interesting to listen to.
    But at 465 words, I would have thought it would be longer, pardon my expectations. I think you just managed to finish this in over an hour.
    Nevertheless, good review, thanks for doing it!

  2. Mine are often just short of 600 words. I've always been taught that a song-by-song approach is a no go, and that it comes out quite boring in the end. I don't know if Rik is tied to any people who ask him to review, but I often write mine within an hour. Of course I listen to it more than a few times over the time span of a week. It's just that one doesn't have an eternity to write about one album. If five people are sending stuff a week, and you're doing one a month, then you can imagine you'll get some angry people on your back.

    Regarding the review. Perhaps a more solid build-up would make it a more appealing read. And get something to listen to too, some YT-vids for example helps to support your arguments and get the reader an image of how the album is.