The White Stripes Lead the New Rock Revolution

Over the past several months, The White Stripes have earned a fair amount of recognition from music fans for a variety of reasons.

Chiefly among these reasons is the original concept of the band itself, which consists of only two members. Jack White plays the guitar and piano while providing lead vocals, and Meg White plays drums and adds backup vocals to some tracks.

In addition, much attention has been paid to the pair’s “breakthrough” music video for “Fell in Love with a Girl.” The video contained scenes composed entirely of Lego Blocks, illustrating the story of the song.

Despite the hype surrounding this Detroit act, it is their music that will determine their status as a band. And “White Blood Cells,” their third full-length album, stands out in the market as an original, solid work.

Rather than follow a typical, formulaic pattern, like so many bands today, the Stripes’ album strives to draw attention to itself through its unique sound. Indeed, the siblings’ style is so rich and full of expressive sounds, as heard in “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” that it is often difficult to believe that only two people created this music.

The precise genre of the album is difficult to pin down, being an odd mixture of elements from classic rock, punk, blues and even country. Despite this seeming mismatch, the Stripes prove fully capable of combining this wide variety of influences into a style that can certainly be called their own.

Listening to the album, one gets the strong impression that the band attempted to get a different sound emphasized on nearly every song-the country rock of “Hotel Yorba,” the classic rock of “Offend in Every Way,” the dark, brooding eeriness of “The Union Forever,” the heavy metal-sounding instrumental “Aluminum,” the frantic-paced “Fell in Love with a Girl,” and the soft, blues sound of “This Protector.”

An interesting innovation used on the songs is Jack White’s variance between acoustic and electric guitar, which gives the album an interesting twist. Both are often employed on the same song, such as the track “Now Mary,” which switches back and forth between the two instruments. Add numerous unique vocal effects, and the result is a band with a sound far from the mainstream.

Naturally, the very qualities that make this act different and distinct may not please the fans of traditional rock, who might not be able to overlook the lack of a bass player. The sheer simplicity that the band is based on may mislead the average music fan into thinking the Stripes do not have much to offer.

Certainly, Jack White’s lyrics and vocals are not for everyone. Many of the songs may appear mysterious, weird or even downright nonsensical.

The track “Little Room,” for instance, consists completely of a drumbeat and steady, enigmatic lyrics and humming. The snarling of “I Think I Smell a Rat” will certainly grab the listener’s attention; it will turn off some, but interest others. The sweet innocence of “We’re Going to Be Friends” may sound too whimsical and childish to many. Obviously, the wide variety of sounds on “White Blood Cells” may prove distasteful to those who like their rock to stick with one genre.

However, in the end, great art should push the envelope and sound different-it is either loved or hated, but never greeted with indifference. Such is the case with “White Blood Cells”: it almost forces the listener to form a strong opinion about it. At this time in music history, with no clear, dominant style in the forefront, this album stands out above all others. It is definitely worth investigating for all music fans who wish to broaden their horizons.