There are many examples in popular music of stripping away the superfluity and getting back to basics, but it doesn’t get much more basic than Detroit’s The White Stripes. Dispensing even with a bass player, the fictional brother and sister duo delivered direct, blues-inflected rock. The White Stripes made six studio albums, but I’m only covering my favourites – they’re a good band, but I’m not sure who’d want to own all of their albums given that their stripped down sound limits their variety.
Their sophomore effort De Stijl is a punchier and more confident album than their debut. The most striking piece is the propulsive rocker ‘Hello Operator’, which demonstrates how effective The White Stripes’ stripped back sound can be, with its repetitive riffing adding urgency to the paranoid vocals. It follows on nicely from the opening ‘You’re Pretty Good Looking [For A Girl]’, upping the ante a notch after its predecessor’s catchy riff craft. Elsewhere it’s the acoustic material that makes an impression; ‘I’m Bound To Pack It Up’ is a charming expedition into folk, while the acoustic cover of Blind Willie McTell’s ‘Your Southern Can Is Mine’ ends the album on a warm but slightly ambiguous note. De Stijl isn’t an all time favourite, but it’s a modestly enjoyable album.