Sound — 8
This album has a distinctive raw sound to it, being recorded with traditional equipement. This, however, is no bad thing, matching Jack White's opinion on how things should be done. There is a good balance between the more upbeat songs such as "Jimmy The Exploder" (a strange one about an angry monkey. Or something) and the slower more meaningful songs such as "Do". Amongst these are several covers including Robert Johnson's "Stop Breaking Down" and Bob Dylan's "One More Cup Of Coffee", and to me these stand out as not The White Stripe's own. Still, they do add a bit of variety and give an idea as to who exactly inspired the duo. I think I'm correct in saying that by listening to it, a lot of open 'A' and open 'E' tuning was used on this album, which gives quite a bluesy sound on some songs, especially the final two and "Suzy-Lee". If you ask me, it was used a bit too much, but I think it was recorded at a time when Jack White was heavily using slide and as a result relied on it a bit on this debut album. Overall however, a very raw, different, meaningful sound which I find to be pleasingly unique.
Lyrics — 8
Most seem to have the idea that the lyrics on this album are random words thrown together which don't seem to mean anything. I on the other hand can't help but feel that there is a lot of meaning behind them. They are just written in a different and somewhat cryptic way. In my opinion there are several songs that are about being a recluse, an introvert, and in these songs lie some of the best lyrics I have heard in a long time. Take "Do" for example: "It doesn't matter 'cos my eyes are lying and they don't show emotion don't want to be social can't take it when they hate me but I know there's nothing I can do". Pure genius. And then there are songs that use a metaphorical approach to get the message across, like the final "I Fought Pirhanas." I think that you do have to have the right kind of mind to appreciate the lyrics and the song's meanings, but if you do you will enjoy this album a lot more.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, this is a great album. Definitely a keystone in my collection. I wouldn't, however, suggest purchasing this if it would be your first White Stripes album. After liking my first two, I brought this wanting to like it, and I therefore approached it with an open mind. This allowed me to see what it actually was rather than just shunning it for being different, which is what I believe many people would do if they expected something akin to Elephant or White Blood Cells. If this album was stolen from me, I'd go "Darn Those Pesky Thieves" before buying another. Simple as that.