The Dead Weather certainly come with a decent pedigree. The most visible member of the band is Jack White. We love old Jack. We think people will still talk about him in 30 years time, unlike a lot of his contemporaries. It’s band number three for White since he broke into the public eye (not counting the Loretta Lynn collab or the Alicia Keys duet). We love the White Stripes but we’re probably in the small camp that loves the boys-club-prog of the Raconteurs even more.
Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs joins this party on bass. Dean Fertita of Queens Of the Stone Age is on guitar. They are fronted by Alison Mosshart of the Kills, a band that has always threatened to break through in a major way. Maybe now is the time for her.
The traditional questions of ‘is this a side project or the real thing?‘ go right out the window when White is involved. He just makes his own rules up, doesn’t he?
Is the proof in the pudding? It’s growing on us. It’s hard not to compare to the members’ other bands – but it sounds most like the White Stripes. There is plenty of guitar riffery. That healthy wallop of blues and attitude mix it up with a huge, dark, menacing sound. And that album cover – looks very Goth-y to us.
I completely gave up on this band until I heard the first single and title track on Icky Thump. The riff sounded like a machine gun, Jack White howling over the top. Like John Spencer says – the blues are number one.
I love the guitar playing on this record. It’s so up front on this record, in ways it hasn’t been in the life of Jack White in a while.
But what makes the White Stripes so awesome is the myth of the White Stripes. They are these almost Chaplin musical characters. They are mariachi spaghetti westerners on Conquest. They are Oliver Twist style hoarders in Rag & Bone. They have their own little (red and white) world so wrapped up. You either have to dive right in or leave the party.
Lyrically too, Jack is on fire and having a lot of fun. “In some respects I suspect you have a respectable side” he sings on You Don’t Know What Love Is. And the highlight, the last track, Effect & Cause is beautiful, playful fuck-you to an ex.
When I first heard the White Stripes, I was so taken with these odd siblings and their candy striped madness. And it’s a feeling that’s come and gone over the years. But this record brings it all back. Even after having become superstars and tabloid fodder, listening to Icky Thump still makes me go “wow, who are these guys?”