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Thursday, June 09, 2005
Why not just tell Satan to leave?
Why not just tell Satan to leave? Just grab his stuff and get out?
Because if he manages to get behind you there's a good chance he'll poke you with his pitchfork. C'mon, he's Satan Isn't that what he does? I wouldn't put it past him. You just can't trust that guy.
There's no telling what the thematically coy White Stripes were shooting for with a title like "Get Behind Me Satan." Their new album's cover features no less than three bits of religious imagery. Meg White is pictured holding a white apple, Jack White is dressed up in his finest 19th century preacher/mortician duds and their outstretched hands look like a hat tip to the Sistine Chapel's "Creation of Adam." But, as Jack has explained in untold number of interviews, the album's running theme is "characters and the ideal of truth."
Roughly translated, this apparently means songs less about religion than lusting after Rita Hayworth ("White Moon" + "Take, Take, Take") and unrequited love for freeloading spirits ("Little Ghost"). Jack White, still with at least one foot still stuck in his 2004 collaboration with Loretta Lynn, has replaced the White Stripes pounding blues/rock riffs with bittersweet marimbas, folk rock love parables and a softer sound all around. After "Blue Orchid," the album skids off into the wilderness. Aside from the shout-out to Beelzebub, the White Stripes latest shares more than a little in common with the Rolling Stones similar working man's blues departure "Beggar's Banquet."
That isn't to say it stumbles along the way. "My Doorbell," possibly the band's worst track to date, is so annoyingly catchy and banal it ranks among the lamest of Paul McCartney's solo recordings ("Let 'Em In" springs to mind). "Passive Manipulation" further proves that Meg shouldn't be allowed near a microphone. "In the Cold, Cold Night," the solo "Meg song" from "Elephant" was hammered into excellence by Jack's menacing guitar work and its creepy lyrics. Meg's frail voice and slurred delivery is further hampered by the sheer pointlessness of "Passive." The song is probably a rushed cast-off and she sounds like a terrified child being forced to sing at a school recital by an overbearing parent. "Satan" was reportedly went from near-conception to finished in a mere two weeks. Fortunately, it only really shows on this track.
The White Stripes, along with current bands like Franz Ferdinand, the Killers, the Strokes and innumerable others have been endlessly convicted of having their heads firmly stuck in the past. Instead of expanding the reaches of rock, they're more content imitating their influences. While the White Stripes may be as guilty as the rest of them, "Get Behind Me Satan" with its bizarre lyrics and throwback sound proves that they're still the greatest '60s band that was born a generation too late.