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The Stripes grow older
and darker on

The White Stripes
Get Behind Me Satan (Third Man/V2)


Age marks a loss of innocence. The world seems
bleaker, age seems harsher and rushed, loved
ones looked older and steps get slower. Age has
always been extremely prevalent in everything the
White Stripes have done. They’ve channeled the
blues, explored childhood relationships and
seemingly tackled young adulthood. So it only
makes sense that the band sounds harsher, darker
and weirder on their fifth album,
Get Behind Me
The leadoff track and single “Blue Orchid” is a prime example of this. Set against thrashing drums and a fuzzed-
out guitar, Jack White pines against the fouling of … something or other. The obtuse lyrics haven’t left this band,
and thank goodness for that. The Stripes are probably the only band around that take themselves as seriously
as they do while still writing words that could baffle a Harvard bigwig. Not to mention they could get my grandma

Back on track, there are other elements of aging and the battles it spurs. “White Moon,” for instance, seems to
hint at a weariness of the fame that the siblings White have come across: “Easy come, easy go, be the star of
the show, I’ve given up all I know to get more…” On top of that, there’s a lyrical nod to “Truth Doesn’t Make A
Noise” from
De Stijl, the last album this band got to make semi-anonymously. “Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)”
is a drastic turn from “I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother's Heart,” and “The Nurse” is as dark a second
track as they’ve ever recorded.

Even the record art hints at something darker, something stranger. Each Stripes sleeve has seen a progression
in light and mood since
The White Stripes. That album featured short-haired Jack with Meg and the striped candy
three times over.
De Stijl had the pair among modern art, with black first coming into the frame. White Blood
depicted the band mobbed by silhouettes of paparazzi. Elephant saw Meg crying while Jack sat along side
her looking into the sky. And here? Meg and Jack are back-to-back, each wearing black, staring off into space
amid a much darker backdrop than their previous cover. Nice, eh?

It’s not all doom-and-gloom here, though. The Stripes know how to have fun, and they know how to write songs
that seem bouncy enough, even if the lyrics are a little out there (as in “Take, Take, Take”). “My Doorbell” is
another happy “c’mon baby” Jack White song that’s as good as any other he’s written, and “The Denial Twist” is
one of the best rockers that this band has ever made, and it’s all on piano, no less.

Through all of this talk of dark and light, I might have misled any faithful reader here — this album kicks. It kicks
like only the Stripes can. There’s a spare quality that still recalls the garage coupled with the sophistication of
White Album-era Beatles or Physical Graffiti-era Zeppelin. If I end up doing one of those “Best of 2005” lists that
seem hard to avoid, it would take a HUGE series of extraordinary and catastrophic events to not list this in a top 5
or 10.

It’s a more than worthy addition to the Stripes cannon and another sign of the progress and growth that
suggests that Jack White really is one of the greats of his generation.

And that’s something that could only come with age.