CD Review of Get Behind Me Satan by The White Stripes

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Get Behind Me Satan
starstarstarstarhalf star Label: V2
Released: 2005
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According to the band’s website, the White Stripes’ fifth effort, Get Behind Me Satan, is an exploration of “characters and the ideal of truth.” Despite the ambitious yet ambiguous mission statement, Satan delivers in a number of different ways. There’s the opening track and the first single, the blistering “Blue Orchid,” which seems to be the requisite rock single of the album – think “Fell In Love With A Girl” or “Seven Nation Army.” Then, there’s “The Nurse,” which opens with a marimba – basically a big xylophone – and intertwines its pretty melody with the intermittent jarring of an electric guitar. “My Doorbell” combines piano and energetic vocals into an infectious tune that will have you mouthing the words almost immediately. Marimba enthusiasts will be happy to hear the instrument returns on the fourth track, “Forever For Her (Is Over For Me),” a roller coaster ride describing the uncertainty surrounding the end of a relationship.

After the Stripes’ last album, Elephant, front man Jack White produced Loretta Lynn’s Grammy-winning Van Lear Rose, and he seems to channel her in the bluegrass “Little Ghost.” The track also fulfills the self-imposed requirement that one song on each Stripes’ album must begin with “Little” – “Little People” on the self-titled debut, “Little Bird” on De Stijl, “Little Room” on White Blood Cells, and “Little Acorns” on Elephant. The rest of the album is just as diverse as the first five songs. Bluesy toe-tapper “The Denial Twist” is followed by the meandering piano ballad, “White Moon.” Next up is the grinding “Instinct Blues,” which represents this album’s “Ball and Biscuit.” One of the best tunes on the disc is “Take, Take, Take,” which describes a celebrity meeting – from the fan’s perspective – and focuses on the escalating greed of the fan. “As Ugly As I Seem” and “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)” are two pretty ballads – the former uses acoustic guitar and the latter features piano. In fact, with all due respect to “Your Southern Can Is Mine” (De Stijl) and “It’s True That We Love One Another” (Elephant), “I’m Lonely” is probably the best of the band’s album closers.

On Get Behind Me Satan, the White Stripes participate in an exercise in contrasts – delivering what they believe the fans want versus delivering whatever they feel like delivering. Fans of the harder stuff in the band’s catalog may feel a bit slighted, but overall, Get Behind Me Satan is another wonderful effort, establishing the White Stripes as one of the most consistent and talented bands working today.

Key tracks: “Blue Orchid,” “Take, Take, Take,” “I’m Lonely,” “My Doorbell”

~John Paulsen