Various Artists

An Electro Tribute to the White Stripes

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Despite its promise to offer "twisted spins on the fresh hits of the Motor City's mysterious minimalist garage duo Jack and Meg White, Electrostripes: An Electro Tribute to the White Stripes is, for the most part, disappointingly straightforward, delivering what sounds like robot karaoke versions of songs like "I'm Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman," "Fell in Love With a Girl," and "St. James Infirmary Blues." Come to think of it, robot karaoke sounds pretty appealing, and in some ways the rigid beats, icy synths, and deadpan vocals that dominate this album do have an awkward charm, particularly on Sin>the>Tik's versions of "I Can't Wait" and "Apple Blossom," and Satin and Circuits' "Hotel Yorba." However, considering how well-written and tightly structured the Stripes' songs are, it's kind of a pity that the artists involved in Electrostripes didn't go a little further with their electro makeovers of these tracks and do something truly twisted with them. The cybernetic covers of "Hello Operator" and "You're Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)" -- by Master Controlled and Commander Xanadu, respectively, although with all the vocoders they sound practically identical -- have the right idea and present a few more tweaks than the majority of the album does, although they could've pushed the envelope (or filter) further as well. Sin>the>Tik's "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" also nearly works, trading the brooding swagger of the original for a more cold-blooded, menacing sound; however, this track -- along with nearly the entire album -- sounds curiously flat, with drums that lack dynamics, and arrangements that feature lots of dead air (as opposed to the charged minimalism of the Stripes' style). Though it was probably conceived as nothing more than a novelty, on which terms it's more or less adequately quirky, Electrostripes still feels like something of a missed opportunity, with groups such as Ladytron, Adult., and Broadcast emphasizing and experimenting with pop-song structures in electronic music (albeit in very different ways); it feels like something similarly unique could be done with the White Stripes' songs if they were in the right hands. As it stands, however, Electrostripes: An Electro Tribute to the White Stripes almost justifies the White Stripes' aversion to most electronic music -- when it's applied to their songs, anyway.

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