The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (Cover Artwork)

The White Stripes

The White Stripes: White Blood CellsWhite Blood Cells (2001)
Sympathy For the Record Industry

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: seekseek
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The White Stripes are another of the handful of garage rock revivalists who have garnered both formidable critical acknowledgement and commercial success. The task before me is to decide whether or not these things are deserved. The White Stripes were formed in 1997 in the good old Motor City, w.
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The White Stripes are another of the handful of garage rock revivalists who have garnered both formidable critical acknowledgement and commercial success. The task before me is to decide whether or not these things are deserved.

The White Stripes were formed in 1997 in the good old Motor City, which just happens to have one of the best garage rock track records. The Stripes themselves are a quite potent mixture of garage and blues, with obvious roots in both punk and folk. This mixture is by no means revolutionary, but still, they do a pretty damn good job with it. What does make them stick out more than the average punk-blues band is the fact that there are only two members: vocalist/guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White. What further adds interest is the widely-held notion they are brother and sister, which contradicts the less-known rumor that this isn't true and that they were once married.

White Blood Cells, their third full-length album, shows considerable growth over their previous two outings, particularly in Jack's songwriting. While the blues influence is a bit lacking this time around, it has its place and this place is very well served. The album opens in a big way with the semi-sweet love song "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground", which begins with some mashed, crunching chords then drops into a rather mellow progression that features lyrics such as "Soft hair and a velvet tongue/I want to give you what you give to me/And every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me" before it lifts back into the heavy chords. Country-tinged "Hotel Yorba" and the ode to the all-but-forgotten practice of chivalry, "I'm Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman", follow right into the hit single of the record, the crazed pop of "Fell In Love With A Girl".

There probably isn't a soul who hasn't heard "Fell In Love With A Girl", but it does stand out as one of the most potent tracks on the album, hence I must comment on it. The driving guitar riffage and choppy drums mixed with Jack White's warbling vocals would make this the near-perfect pop song regardless of the lyrics, but with lines such as "Red hair with a curl/Mellow roll for the flavor and eyes for peeping/Can't keep away from the girl/These two sides of my brain need to have a meeting/Can't think of anything to do/My left brain knows that all love is fleeting/She's looking for something new/And I said it once before but it bares repeating." this song won't be leaving your head anytime soon.

The nearly-as-slow-as-Sabbath "Expecting" has the tough distinction of following up the great song previous to it, but the contrast in speed serves as an interesting change in pace for the album. Next is the fifty-second "Little Room" which is nothing but driving drums and the lyrics "Well you're in your little room // and you're working on something good // but if it's really good // you're gonna need a bigger room // and when you're in the bigger room // you might not know what to do // you might have to think of // how you got started // sitting in your little room" which seems to apply quite well to their current success. The moody "The Union Forever", complete with Citizen Kane references and strange breakdown which features only light percussion, is one of my favorite tracks on the album.

The rather forgettable "The Same Boy You've Always Known" leads into the really good acoustic tune "We're Going to Be Friends". "Offend In Every Way" is an equally good tune that mixes western guitars with a dark tinge, something reminiscent of Johnny Cash. "I Think I Smell a Rat" is another good tune, with its chainsaw strumming and rather vicious lyrics. "Aluminum" follows with some heavy, doomy mashing. The last four songs are all pretty mellow, but each in their own way, which is a great way to close the mostly fairly revved up, somewhat manic songs that proceeded.

The band may be slightly over-hyped, but for the most part they are quite deserving of what they've gotten this past year. The question isn't that they are getting press they don't deserve, it is that equally good or better bands aren't getting the press they do deserve. Meanwhile, fairly crappy bands like the Vines are getting as much acclaim and the Strokes are getting way more than their fair share, being a somewhat decent band but getting more critical patronage than the Stripes. If you wrote this band off, you may want to give "White Blood Cells" a chance and go pick it up. While saying it is one of the best albums in the mainstream right now isn't exactly saying much, it holds its own against the most of the abums more underground bands are offering at the moment.

Review originally from Mediaocre Industries, where the players play.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (March 3, 2005)

although it's true the band get way too much acclaim, they're ok. u can say it's impressive that a band with two players can make such good music.

Anonymous (July 21, 2004)

This is a damn fine cd, granted its not punk per say but there is definatly a punk influence here. The video for Ash's song Envy is hilarious for taking the piss out of Jack and Meg and their brother sister relationship.

Anonymous (October 7, 2002)

It's not good, but better than forty more Blink clones.

Anonymous (October 6, 2002)

Not sure why everybody here always argues. Yeah, we all have different opinions, but can't we all just leave it at that?

Why argue with people that could care less about your view?

Borntolose (October 3, 2002)

>>>A friend of mine let me hear this cd when it came out, the review I gave him was one sentence: "Congratulations, you've found a band worse than The Strokes."

Ohh yeah and I forgot to past bayby.

Borntolose (October 3, 2002)


If I was a religious type I'd say "A-Men" But Im not that dumb so Ill say "A-Team"

Borntolose (October 3, 2002)

These guys suck big fat nasty droopy grandma titties.....This "new" wave of rock is terrible......Leave this shit to MTV to push to some no personality rich kids.......Echhhh.

ludacris (October 3, 2002)

i like them titties.

seek (October 3, 2002)

>>whats with all the reviews of these "garage rock" bands? and why do they have that "orginally posted ..." crap at the end?

I reviewed them together for a reason you shall never know. They have that message because that is where they were originally posted, retard. It is called shameless self-promotion

Anonymous (October 2, 2002)

this is the white stripes third album. the vines and strokes came out quick with their first albums and a lot of hype.

abileneINlove (October 2, 2002)

Peppermint clad duo graced the late show after Lawrence Arms in September last year in the 'lou. Ms. Meg White does have those da-donk-a-tanks.

This record is great. However odd it was to see them at the MTV Movie Awards and all those geeky frat boys moshing, it was celebratory too.

The Stripes rose and they rose fast. I would have thought The Get Up Kids or Thursday would have been screwing Serena Altchul quicker, but Jack be nimble, Jack be quick...

Anonymous (October 2, 2002)

she sucks at drumming

Anonymous (October 2, 2002)

Yeah, I'd like to lube up that chest and go to work on her.

Anonymous (October 2, 2002)

I dont know what breats are, I do know she has big breasts though.

Pretty boring album by the way.

waste_elite (October 2, 2002)

"Meh, the chick got big breats."

~comment of the day~


Anonymous (October 2, 2002)

bands that hit a million without a struggle............wheres the fun in that? you gotta live in the van before you can appreciate the house.

Anonymous (October 2, 2002)

I have their album, but I donā??t really listen to it a lot. I like their songs, but it gets kinda boring after a song or three.

Anonymous (October 2, 2002)

Meh, the chick got big breats.

waste_elite (October 2, 2002)

these guys are ok. the strokes are better though.

Anonymous (October 1, 2002)

i like Same Boy You've Always Known a lot, but it took me awhile to get into I Think I Smell a Rat. the vocals just seemed a little off during the first couple of listens. it's a great album. not really like the hives or the vines, at least i don't think so.


Anonymous (October 1, 2002)

rock the vote yo!

TheOneTrueBill (October 1, 2002)

whats with all the reviews of these "garage rock" bands? and why do they have that "orginally posted ..." crap at the end?

Anonymous (October 1, 2002)

these guys suck. they have absolutely no talent. None whatsoever.

CallingLondon (October 1, 2002)

this band is increadible. the strokes are very good, but not as good as the stripes. the hives are somewhere inbetween the strokes and the stripes, and vines, well the vines just suck. but seriously, this band is way more than just a current trendy rock band. Jack's lyrics are top-notch, thoughtful, and intelligent. he's a real poet. the music is increadibly creative, yet stripped down to the basics. if you're a fan of music, and know anything about it, i really suggest you get this album.

Anonymous (October 1, 2002)

I absolutely love Fell In Love with a Girl but I listened to the rest of the songs at the listening station at Newbury Comics and just couldnt get into it. But I give them credit because its great songwriting, just not my style.-BostonMusicGuy

Pseudonova (October 1, 2002)

I correct myself, the White Stripes were still indie too, but they still rode the Hives curtails.

Pseudonova (October 1, 2002)

The Hives dominate all these "garage" bands. They got their own asses on MTV through their bad ass sound, they did it first and without major label billing. Remember, they were still on Burning Heart (T(I)NC, Millencollin) outta Sweden when they broke big, they just recently signed to a major label. They did it without all the major label conveniences. The White Stripes, The Strokes, The Vines; none of them got there simply through their music. This isn't a lash out against the other bands, they are ok too, I guess. But they should never forget who their predecesors were, and neither should the fans. Their sound is so much cleaner, so much more talented, and so much more agressive all at the same time.

seek (October 1, 2002)

Yeah Kirby, I have other garage rockish stuff to review, I've been slacking though.

Anonymous (October 1, 2002)

A friend of mine let me hear this cd when it came out, the review I gave him was one sentence: "Congratulations, you've found a band worse than The Strokes."

Anonymous (October 1, 2002)

probably some of the best lyrics i've heard. couple that with the lonelyness evoked from hearing only a guitar and a drum. awesome.

Anonymous (October 1, 2002)

These two are terrible. I'll never forget watching this atrocity on the Craig Kilborn show and thinking that they must be a charity act that tours and shows the damages done by inbreeding. The album is just a better produced, cleaned up version of the garbage band known as the White Stripes. Their producer deserves an award, he did the impossible, he polished a turd.

kirbypuckett (October 1, 2002)

Will Seek be submitting reviews for The Hives, Randy, Sleater-Kinney, Ravenettes, and all those other garage rock bands anytime soon?

- Scott
(Are you ready for some COBOL?)

FloggingDay (October 1, 2002)

Actually it was released by V2 Records too, which is a major.

Anonymous (September 30, 2002)

this band got hyped at the same time and as bad as the strokes.

As I tend to do, I just hated them offhand for that alone. Then I listened to them.

I dont want to, and I didnt want to, but its a really good record. I mean I really like it. Its minimal, and flows really well.

And the fact their on sympathy for the record industry should have given me some more hope. Point: fuck me for being so cynical.


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