Amazon’s resident critic says that Get Behind Me, Satan
is the White Stripes’s strangest and least focused
album but also their finest — and that’s not a bad summary. As with a
lot of great Bob Dylan albums it gives the impression of someone
rummaging around in the attic of American music and American culture
looking for answers to some desperate personal problems — and even if
the answers aren’t always forthcoming, there’s still the consolation of
realizing that there are a lot of cool and scary things up there.
Jack White on this album bumps into a lot of ghosts and has a disturbing
encounter with Rita Hayworth as he deconstructs his garage band style
and inflects it with deranged pop and country interpolations. He’s
always done this sort of thing musically, tying it all together with
his strong blues-based guitar — but this time nothing gets tied
together too neatly. It’s almost as though he’s thinking out loud in
the studio and letting us eavesdrop on the session.
The result is raw and silly and powerful and eloquent by turns, defying the slick sound and off-the-rack attitude that homogenizes most bands these days, even those in the neo-rock movement the Stripes have spearheaded.
Jack and Meg are simply continuing their conversation with every tradition of
American popular music — powered by the blues but ranging
far beyond them . . . on a spiritual and anguished search for the soul
of the times. In his liner notes to the album Jack rails against the
sarcasm and irony of pop posturing today — he wants us to face the
terror squarely. The White Stripes, like the great bluesmen that
inspired them, are taking on the devil himself — determined to get at
least a few steps ahead of him before it’s too late.
Here’s a link to the music video of one of the album’s best songs: