The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan

Everyone’s favourite candy-stripers return with their fifth full-length album, newly weighted with the expectations that accompany having established such a signature sound (not to mention look). But rather than simply serving up another batch of Detroit-style garage fuzz, Jack White has merged the MC5 boogie of past White Stripes efforts with an influence derived from his work as an old time-y folk musician in last year’s Cold Mountain. Written entirely on piano, marimba and acoustic guitar, Get Behind Me Satan offers up a new spin on what remains a familiar White Stripes sound. It wouldn’t be difficult to amp up the distorted guitar stomp on a track like "The Denial Twist” — and provide an appropriately innovative video to accompany it — but instead, Jack strips the instrumentation down to spare piano stabs and shaking maracas while he sings "We’re playing a different role.” It comes off like the anti-remix: reinterpreting it for a retrofit instead of modernisation. Drummer Meg White steps to the mic for some tentative singing on "Passive Manipulation” and the O Brother-ish "Little Ghost,” but it’s clear this is Jack’s show, and he’s taking the opportunity to reinterpret rather than rehash the Stripes’ signatures. Don’t worry, it still sounds and of course looks like the White Stripes: Jack’s voice and his penchant for very simple hooks are still very much in place. Having opened the cupboard of his sonic palette, Get Behind Me offers hope for what he might find when he starts rooting around. (V2)