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The White Stripes

This antiamnesiac elixir is a peppermint-flavored treat. In addition to maintaining the red-and-white design theme on their third full-length, the trashy-chic White duo from Detroit again strips bare the rock to find... more rock. With nothing other than Meg White's two-ton drums and Jack White's splintered guitar, piano subtleties, and pasty vocals, they summon to the fore the heavily indebted canon of Caucasian blues (the Stones, the Byrds, Zeppelin, Sabbath, etc.). At the same time, the brazen garage-punk attitude and coyly wailing sloppiness will twist your cynical smirk anew. By the time Jack puckers, "If you can hear a piano fall/You can hear me coming down the hall" over the descending chords in the third verse of the opener "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," the familiarity with these progressions endears you to the song's simple, missionary soul-rock religion coiled through its ever-loving roots.

Now, it's not just lately that we've seen fresh faces o'er this land east and west, rockin' sweaty garage pedigree sounds to throngs of believers. But bands like the Hellacopters, the International Noise Conspiracy, and -- most famously -- the Strokes are perhaps bringing about a revival of sorts. The White Stripes are of the same (Son) house, robed in the same choir colors and praising the same gods but in a cathedral all their own. In songs boasting hooks so blatantly smashing and bare and rhythms so nude, concise beats of silence throughout enhance the tunes' potency to entice us and convert our starving souls into reverie. This is loud dancing. In the driving, dusty stomp acoustics of "Hotel Yorba," the fuzzed hop of "Fell in Love With a Girl," the dark organ drama of the love-bashing "The Union Forever," and the sweet-strummed innocence of "We're Going to be Friends," White Blood Cells mines timeless traditions with riotously moving results. Hallelujah!

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David Karpel

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