The White Stripes depart slightly from their previous releases on their fifth album, Get Behind Me Satan, but Jack and Meg fail miserably in their attempt to shed their formulaic beginnings. Their previous albums offered a guitar-heavy, hit-or-miss blues style, but here the Whites have introduced pianos and background noise for an even more repetitive formula. Despite some moments of aural pleasure, Get Behind Me Satan hovers in mediocrity for most of its forty-four minutes.
Opener and lead single ï¿½Blue Orchidï¿½ is Death From Above 1979-lite, offering a fuzzy guitar and stomping kick drum that tries so hard to be in-your-face but pales in comparison to what the two-piece from the Great White North are putting together. ï¿½The Nurseï¿½ relies on piano tinkling and frequent drum and guitar explosions that make me wish I were listening to the Fiery Furnaces ï¿½ they actually understand how to tastefully merge avant-garde and seventies-influenced pop. ï¿½Forever for Me (Is Over for Her)ï¿½ has an Elton John-esque chorus that would have done well on the Scissor Sisters eponymous debut last year. Even the recordï¿½s catchiest songs become grating, because everything that makes them worth listening to is recycled throughout the album. The irresistible melody on ï¿½My Doorbellï¿½ is repeated on ï¿½Forever For Meï¿½ in half-time, revealing Jackï¿½s limited piano skills.
With their lo-fi aesthetic, vintage sound and initially ambiguous relationship, the immediate fame of Jack and Meg White had nothing to do with their skill as musicians or songwriters. Six years after releasing their self-titled debut, Get Behind Me Satan shows the group trying to prove their relevance with lazy innovation. Instead of copying the aesthetic of 1970s rock ï¿½nï¿½ roll, theyï¿½ve copied some of last yearï¿½s more popular indie records. The result, though at times satisfying, mostly feels contrived. Get Behind Me Satan proves the White Stripes to be a band that has run out of ideas, held together only by its massive fame.