Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but even more effective, apparently, are middling prog-rock side projects. Fans shrugged over last year's Broken Boy Soldiers, the noodly debut from Jack White's other band, the Raconteurs. Icky Thump, though, the White Stripes' sixth album (their first for a major label), has critics dusting off superlatives they haven't used since the band's 2001 breakthrough White Blood Cells. Anytime Jack breaks out the red pants, universal acclaim is pretty much a given. But just how much do they love it?
Rave: "Icky Thump rivals White Blood Cells in accessibility … [W]hen Jack White gets to ax-grinding, his succinct six-string outbursts are loud and scrappy but not indulgent … Whether howling or crooning, picking or ripping, [he] comes across as earnest and fully invested in every Icky moment." —Neil Drumming, Entertainment Weekly
(Semi-)Rant: "The band's sound and method are 10 years old now, and this record is structurally familiar — with an approximation of a radio hit (its big-riff title track), a few blues longueurs and folk miniatures — but slightly more grandiose. Its rock is louder, its campiness richer. ("Little Cream Soda" is the closest they've gotten to metal; the album's only song not written by Mr. White, "Conquest," copped off a Patti Page record, is chest-beating kitsch.) The setup's the same, the colors richer." —Ben Ratliff, New York Times