Sometimes there’s a thin line between a compelling idea and a flat-out gimmick. Proudly walking that line is D-Town’s favorite divorced, candy-striped pseduo-sibling blues-rock minimalists, Jack and Meg White.
A forceful muddle of art school/punk ambition and self-resolve, Southern folk/country, Tin Pan Alley theatrics, British Invasion pop and barebones blues by way of the Nugget’s ’60s garage collection, the duo’s deceptively simple sound hid a vast gulf of music knowledge.
Before they cracked the top 40, bum rushed the VMAs and even before the British music press were slobbering all over them, the Stripes unleashed the full power of their primordial stomp on their self-titled debut.
The epic bookends of “Jimmy the Explorer” and “I Fought Piranhas,” find Jack delighting in playing Page and Plant at once, while Meg lays down ridiculously simple, yet utterly appropriate drumtracks. Covers of Dylan’s haunting “One More Cup of Coffee” and Robert Johnson’s despondent “Stop Breaking Down” confirm the Stripes’ pitch-perfect hipster taste, but the secert brillance of the group isn’t borrowed or stolen at all. Jack’s songwriting shined through as the most promising aspect of the record, particularly on the big “bite-the-hand-that-feed-ya” anthem and instant Michigan rock classic “The Big Three Killed My Baby.”