The White Stripes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 June, 2005, 12:00am

The White Stripes

Get Behind Me Satan


The previous offering from Jack and Meg White boasted that it was made without computers, instead recorded on musty old equipment dusted off from the 1960s. The skewed rock-outs of Elephant have since been received as a masterpiece, and the quirky novelty surrounding the band - especially the ambiguity between its two principals - was finally outshone by the record's globe-trouncing success.

Two years later and the biblically charged Get Behind Me Satan spends less time boasting about its 'authentic' origins (indeed, the grinding riff that drives White's surly falsetto on opener Blue Orchid sounds positively robotic) and even less time in the studio.

Recorded in a fortnight (with the duo apparently going into the studio with unfinished songs), there's an urgent, spontaneous energy infusing the record - although it's not as instantaneous on the ears as Elephant. This time around, the beauty lies in its perversity. For a major marquee release carrying such weight of expectation to be knocked out in a fortnight is the equivalent to cramming your exam revision on the school bus that morning.

Orchid is the most direct track here, while Nurse must surely be the angriest song ever played on marimba, with its fist-against-the-wall slam of guitars bursting in at random moments.

Meg White still sings like she's reading the shopping list, however - Passive Manipulation sends shivers down the spine for all the wrong reasons. Yet the Stripes steadfastly refuse to change their spots when it comes to their seething, searing take on Americana, and that's a good thing, because there are moments here when the devil is indeed handed a mighty beat-down.