Icky Thump review by The White Stripes

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  • Released: Jun 19, 2007
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.4 (297 votes)
The White Stripes: Icky Thump
18

Sound — 9
It's obvious that The White Stripes relish dipping into as many genres as humanly possible, and their latest release Icky Thump fully accomplishes that goal. When fame hits, certain bands take full advantage of creative freedom and The White Stripes are one of a few bands that have taken that to the extreme - successfully. Thankfully, Jack White has both the talent and charisma to pull it off. While Icky Thump might tread too much territory for the average radio listener, fans of the White Stripes should be fascinated by the latest songs, which cover everything from a Mariachi-inspired theme to a Scottish traditional. Be prepared for what you're in for when you listen to Icky Thump. It's all over the place genre-wise, but White Stripes fans probably expect that from the eclectic music man that Jack White is. The title track Icky Thump is as manic as it gets, starting out with what sounds like bagpipes but is apparently a keyboard, followed soon after by an infectious rock riff that pops up intermittently. White's vocals are spastic and emotional, making them a perfect fit for the unusual track. At first listen it's a lot to take in, but Icky Thump is a pretty genius track that is hands-down the best track on the CD. Conquest, a cover originally performed by the 50's songstress Patti Page, features Mariachi-styled trumpet playing and could be an easy fit to set up a showdown in vintage cinema. The trumpet and electric guitar play back and forth throughout, almost as if in a very showdown themselves. It transcends just being a rock song and could easily be fit into any soundtrack, particularly in the whole El Mariachi series. Meg White's primal beats are present underneath it all, and her trademark percussion style has actually never sounded better. With a bit of Led Zeppelin and a lot of traditional Scottish folk music, Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn is an earthy track that starts out with a mandolin and the bagpipe-sound once again (while some sources again have stated this is a keyboard, this track feels very, very close to the real thing). With a repeating chorus of Singing li-di-li-d-li-lo, it is the antithesis of a rock song, and the band has to be commended for the gutsy move. Rock purists may tire of this track, but musically it's still a strong piece of work. There are some slow moments on the CD like the fairly straightforward ballad You Don't Know What Love Is, but the vast majority of the tracks have more than a few interesting moments along the way. Meg White also gets a chance to step into the spotlight once again with St. Andrew (The Battle Is In The Air), an emotional, spoken-word prayer that calls upon a defender in the fight against evil. It is short in length, but it is an engaging track nonetheless.

Lyrics — 10
The lyrics on Icky Thump are just as unique as the music backing it up. The down-home blues track Rag & Bone actually is spoken just as much as it's sung, and Jack White continues to make down-home, quips as if a wayfaring traveler, while Meg sounds off in approval. Meg asks, I saw some stuff in here - are you going to give it to us? Jack returns, Oh, Meg, don't be rude. They might need it. If you don't want it, we'll take it. If you don't want to give it to us, we'll keep walking by. You almost feel like you're scavenging along with Jack and Meg, and it makes for a fun ride. Icky Thump doesn't fail to deliver clever, offbeat lyrics, either. Jack sings, Red-head seorita; Lookin' dead; Came to said, 'I need a bed' en espaol. It has its own story, even if it's a fairly vague and unusual one. And when you tack on Jack's delivery to the lyrics, it makes it all a bit more intriguing. In the end, it's obvious that Jack isn't rehashing the same old rhyme schemes that have been used in the past, and that's the most refreshing aspect of the lyrics.

Overall Impression — 9
The White Stripes' latest release is one that a lot of people will need at least a few listens to full absorb. You're taken in a lot of different directions, and some might not like every stop made along the way. From spoken word to 60's-inspired guitar rock, Icky Thump does seem to cover it all. But for every song you're unsure about, there is like to be 2 or 3 that you'll sit back and realize that The White Stripes are at the top of their game. While Jack and Meg play pretty much any style they attempt competently, they will always be naturals when it comes to the gritty blues sound heard on earlier releases. Catch Hell Blues, a fairly standard blues track, stands out just as much as the spastic masterpieces heard on Icky Thump, and Jack White's guitar work is a huge reason why the band is able to transform a fairly straightforward blues song into an inspired opus.

38 comments sorted by best / new / date

    dgme92
    the best band around now... well, its a toss up between them and wolfmother, which is pretty tough.
    chiefmegadeth
    There stuff is too simple!when i listen i feel like a 10 year old wrote the songs... Feel like they are taking away money from real musicians But each to he's own i guess
    Dirk Gently
    Wolven wrote: The White Stripes are the only (true)Blues musicians out right now...
    That's the most retarded thing I've read all day. Congratulations. Anyway, I sincerely hope this is better than "Get Behind Me Satan," which I perceived as 50% good and 50% filler. Jack White can write some great songs, but then some of it is a little too "avant garde" for my tastes.
    guitarded420
    jack white is a hacker. i need not comment on meg white. that is why the white stripes suck. no matter how many genres they may delve into, they still sound like the same two hack ass musicians they are. sure, maybe hes original and doing what not many others are, i cannot deny that. but as a guitarist myself, im sorry he is just hack and sloppy. hence, i abhor the white stripes, because everyone talks him up to a status hell never rightfully achieve as a player. now everyone can razz me for not liking "raw" music or whatever you wanna say. plus hes like one of the biggest dicks.
    Vrstone87
    guitarded420 wrote: jack white is a hacker. i need not comment on meg white. that is why the white stripes suck. no matter how many genres they may delve into, they still sound like the same two hack ass musicians they are. sure, maybe hes original and doing what not many others are, i cannot deny that. but as a guitarist myself, im sorry he is just hack and sloppy. hence, i abhor the white stripes, because everyone talks him up to a status hell never rightfully achieve as a player. now everyone can razz me for not liking "raw" music or whatever you wanna say. plus hes like one of the biggest dicks.
    if you don't like them.....then don't listen to them
    metalifan
    I am a huge fan of the Stripes and also a big fan of Led Zeppelin and when I heard this I could straight away hear the Led Zeppelin style in it! I am glad Jack is still doing White Stripes because I felt sorry for Meg when he went off with the Raconteurs. Another amazing album Jack and Meg keep it up! Much better than Get Behind Me Satan
    WhiteStripesIII
    Really amazing album, definately worth the 2 year wait... though, it'll never beat Get Behind Me Satan (I know most people will disagree with me on that... but GBMS is one of my favourite albums ever)
    RtodaJ
    CRAZY ALBUM. but mix between get behind me satin and Elephant
    sowhat360
    TheWorks wrote: This album is so much worse than allt heir other ones. Better than most albums but they go too far with their "creatvity" and what comes out is repetitive solo after repetitive solo interspersed with some half thought out lyrics. Not impressive.
    don't know where you get that from
    sicgretsch
    Why does everybody have to say to good bans these days, thats very zeppelinish. Why not say thats very white stripes-ish because i dont remember any led albums like this one. I love zeppelin myself but anyway just got this album, it was very white stripes-ish
    DirtyFryBassGuy
    you know what i don't get? i don't get why people go and write bad comments about albums and stuff by a certain band. . . what's the point? if you don't like them, ignore them. i absolutely HATE tool, but i don't go and write "TOOL SUCKS!" on all of their news and reviews and such. what the hell is a "hacker," anyhow? i don' get it and why is he a big dick? he's probably nicer than you. he doesn't go and insult people he doesn't even know. i hate it when people rant about things they don't like. it sickens me. to quote the stripes: if you're looking for hot water, don't get shocked if you get burned a little bit.
    FreeRange_Human
    Vrstone87 wrote: This definitely their best album since White Blood Cells
    Seconded, but White Blood Cells is still their best album.
    Nesk_101
    The White Stripes just rocked the SHIT out of Bonnaroo 2007, and were sounding better than ever. Anyone who enjoys them should check out the DVD Under Blackpool Lights and/or this new album. It's all prime.
    RHCP94
    I love this album, great track after great track. I bought it only 10 hours ago, but have already came to the conclusion that this is overtakes Elephant as my Stripes album. Bravo, Jack & Meg, Fuc kin Bravo.
    chowduff
    The White Stripes just rocked the SHIT out of Bonnaroo 2007, and were sounding better than ever. Anyone who enjoys them should check out the DVD Under Blackpool Lights and/or this new album. It's all prime. i was at the gig in blackpool when it was shot! Overall awesome gig, worldclass band!
    Musicislife539
    uninsane_guitar wrote: white stripes SUCK!
    hey, your bieng realy arrogant here. dont just say they suck, because you start loads of trouble, and it makes you sound stupid. you have to keep it civil, and say i dont like them because state reason here, not just. DAH, THEY SUCK
    XNevermindX
    Wow Icky Thump just blows away all my extremely high expectations. This is one of the best album's I've ever heard. Every track is unique. It's simply amazing and worth every penny (and I would have definately paid more for this). This is certainly the White Stripes best effort so far.
    Musicislife539
    thats the cool tihng about white stripes. the songs are so great you forget why in the hell the album was called icky thump.
    DirtyFryBassGuy
    i absolutely love this album, some of their best work ever *i own it all, including lots of b-sides*, i do enjoy it more than GBMS...so glad jack went back to the guitar instead of piano/marimba...not that those aren't cool, but i like loud white stripes songs more btw, icky thump is a bastardization of "ecky thump", an expression from northern england that basically means "what the hell?" so jack basically named his new album "what the hell?" just thought i'd point that out
    minty79
    It's a great return for The White Stripes. Im glad Jack gave up the piano and Meg shows she's capable of performing more than one drum riff in Rag and Bone. Best song of the Cd has to be You Don't Know What Love Is and the reason of this is that the blues riff shows some euthusiasm and the creative side of Jack's Blues guitar knowlage
    chives221
    the white stripes new cd is awesome. they have not lost their unique style at all. and now they have 6 albums so they can make it into the hall of fame. and i know they will eventually. im going to their special concert tomorrow night in hollywood. only 200 tickets are available and they were given to the first 200 people that waited in line yesterday. i waited for 15 hours in the hot sun for these tickets and im going! =) its gonna totally be worth it.
    God's Guitarist
    that 1st review was really well done. the keyboard thing on icky thump is a stylophone (i think), which is some stupid hand held keyboard that rolf harris used to play in the 80's apparently. ahaha, trust jack white. needless to say i now want one more than life itself.
    f1sk
    Wolven wrote: I need it. If I get this and the self-titled I'll have every White Stripes CD. I really like the sound of Rag and Bone and Catch Hell BLues. The White Stripes are the only (true)Blues musicians out right now, so eat your heart out Amy Winehouse!
    you obviously don't listen to alot of blues
    mental_zer0
    This album was super badass. I got it on the 19th in Japan with the bonus track Baby Brother. I really like it. It cost 25 USD tho.