White Stripes are a boy-girl guitar-drum duo from Detroit with a savage sense of humor and fierce new garage-rock sermons for the faithful. Primitive and emotional in the very best rock 'n' roll tradition, Jack and Meg White gleefully careen between punk, blues and pop with little effort and even less pretense. Their minimalist approach, strict adherence to a red & amp; white, peppermint-candy dress code and deliberate ambiguity about their relationship (are they husband and wife or brother and sister?) have recently dragged them from almost complete obscurity into the 40-watt glare of indie-rock stardom.
White Blood Cells (their third record since forming in 1997) is astonishingly diverse in terms of the arrangements and emotional range. "Hotel Yorba" is a satisfying country blues-rock stomp. "Expecting" reveals the band's Motor City lineage, complete with Stooges-esque power chording (while Jack's cracked, tortured vocal delivery suggests a diet rich in Frank Black). "Same Boy You've Always Known" is a charming, jagged little ballad of typically modest construction and dynamic execution accentuated by Jack's gentle croon. In deceptively simple language he outlines the basics of broken heart recovery -- and then promptly ignores them. "You fell down of course/ And then you got up of course/ And you started over/ Forgot my name of course/ Then you started to remember." On "We're Going to be Friends," an acoustic guitar, three chords and a single vocal are all that are needed to convey a sweet tale of innocence and camaraderie -- invoking grade-school imagery ("Brand new shoes, walking blues/ Climb the fence, books and pens") all the way home.