It's sometimes hard to tell when the White Stripes are messing with your head. So when the candy-striped duo announced Wednesday on their Web site that the follow-up to 2005's Get Behind Me Satan is done and will be called Icky Thump, you'll forgive us if we were a bit skeptical.
Then again, this is the same band that once named a song "You're Pretty Good Looking [For a Girl]," so who knows? What we do know from the missive is that the album is done and mixed and that it will be the first Stripes release to feature a title track. And from what we can tell, "Icky Thump" is the name of a BattleBots team from Iowa, but the more U.K.-friendly spelling "Ecky Thump" is a bastardization of the word "eck" or "heck" and it's a way of saying "what the hell?" Which makes a bit more sense.
While it doesn't appear to be a Nine Inch Nails-style cryptic reference to some global conspiracy (see "Weird Web Trail: Conspiracy Theory — Or Marketing For Nine Inch Nails LP?"), a Web search for "ecky thump" also pulled up an episode of the British comedy "The Goodies" from 1975 called "Kung Fu Kapers" — alternately known as the "Ecky-Thump" episode — in which one of the lead characters, Bill, is revealed to be a master of a heretofore unknown Lancashire, England, martial-arts style known as, you guessed it, the "Ecky-Thump," in which unsuspecting saps are hit with black pudding.
The Stripes copped to the "Kapers" lift in the posting, saying, "though some residents of Northern England might almost recognize the title, The Stripes stress they are spelling it wrong intentionally just for 'kicks' and 'metaphors.' "
Odd title aside, what we do know for sure is that the album was tracked at Blackbird Studio in Jack White's adopted hometown of Nashville, and among the songs to be included are "Catch Hell Blues," "Little Cream Soda," "Rag and Bone" and "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You're Told)." We're not quite sure what to make of word that the song "Monkeys Have It Easy" has been "discarded" or that "Clicky Bump" was "retitled into something pleasant." Oh, right, we get it.
But they tell us that it was "the longest time the delightful duo have ever spent in the studio, totaling almost three weeks. Jack and Meg were said to have been looking like they were 'into it almost.' And even Meg herself was quoted while leaving a local Nashville laundromat saying that the record was, in her best estimate, 'finished,' 'musical in nature' and lastly, though slightly muffled, 'good.' "
The Stripes, who recently relocated to Warner Bros. records after their former label home, V2, was shuttered, will be announcing the album's release date soon, according to the lengthy Web post, which was attributed to Moscow Bugle reporter Kitayna Ireyna Tatanya Kerenska Alisof. "We are doing our best (whatever that is) to release the album as soon as corporately possible. And though we are tired, worn, weary, hungry, cold and left without an ounce of nutrition amongst ourselves, we are in the midst of planning performance type shows around the world."
After their trip into marimba-land on Satan, what will the new album sound like? They aren't saying that either, but a brief clip of the band in the studio working on an early version of the song "I'm Slowly Turning Into You" reveals a familiar spooky, keyboard-heavy, bashing-drums-and-Led-Zeppelin-stomp sort of vibe, with Jack White urgently singing the lines, "I'm slowly turning into you/ But you don't know this/ [unintelligible] but true/you say I'm lying and I never really tell you the truth." Why is Meg White dancing around in a full-on skeleton costume behind Jack in the video? We have no idea.