Elephant

(2003), 8/10
The White Stripes’ fourth album Elephant was their high water mark commercially and artistically. It reflects their newly found star status, with an irresistible single (‘Seven Nation Army’), an audacious cover of a Bacharach standard (‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’), a seven minute blues epic (‘Ball and Biscuit’, full of braggadocio like “It’s quite possible that I’m your third man girl/But it’s a fact that I’m the seventh son”), and an album closer, featuring Holly Golightly on guest vocals, that gets mileage out of deflating the mythology around the group. Other elements of diversity on the album include Meg getting her first lead vocal on ‘In The Cold Cold Night’, bearing a close resemblance to The Velvet Underground’s drummer Mo Tucker. The so sincere that it’s insincere ‘I Want To Be The Boy’ pays homage to seventies AOR. Perhaps most revolutionary of all, there’s even a distinct bass-line in the singles ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘The Hardest Button to Button’, although Jack claims that the bass sound was created on guitar. And there are still plenty of cracking guitar riffs, like ‘Black Math’ and ‘There’s No Home For You Here’. The group’s refusal to take themselves seriously in the face of success with such a playful record is refreshing.

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