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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Some more up-to-date music now from The White Stripes. The band is a little different. First of all, there are just two members: guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White. They used to be married. They're obsessed with vintage gear and pre-computer-age recording techniques. And they focus on immediacy. The first single from their new album was released just two weeks after it was finished. The White Stripes' new CD is called "Get Behind Me Satan." Our critic Tom Moon says it has some surprises.

(Soundbite of "Blue Orchid")

TOM MOON reporting:

Some rock bands find a successful sound and work it forever. Some experiment constantly, confounding their fans. The White Stripes want it both ways.

(Soundbite of "Blue Orchid")

THE WHITE STRIPES: (Singing) You got a reaction. You got a reaction, didn't you?

MOON: On the new disc "Get Behind Me Satan," there are several doses of the slightly deranged blues-rock that made the duo famous.

(Soundbite of "Blue Orchid")

THE WHITE STRIPES: (Singing) Something better than nothing, something better than nothing, it's giving up. We all need to do something. Try keeping the truth from showing up. How dare you? How old are you now, anyway? How dare you? How old are you now, anyway?

MOON: That's the single "Blue Orchid." It's one of only three songs built around The White Stripes' most identifiable sound: Jack White's barbed wire electric guitar. Here's another one.

(Soundbite of music)

THE WHITE STRIPES: (Singing) Can't you hear me, can't you hear me calling your name, girl?

MOON: The guitar songs on this disc are little miracles of ad-libbed invention, the kind that might have been written in five minutes.

(Soundbite of music)

THE WHITE STRIPES: (Singing) You think not telling is the same as not lying, don't you? Then I guess...

MOON: You've heard these rhythm riffs a zillion times before, but not played this way. The guitar crunch is so abrasive, you feel it before you even hear it.

(Soundbite of music)

THE WHITE STRIPES: (Singing) In the red, in the rain, in the rain, in the red, in the red, in the rain, in the rain, in the rain...

MOON: And that's just part of the story. Jack White wrote the other 10 songs on piano, or marimba, of all things. These send The White Stripes into a whole nother dimension.

(Soundbite of music)

THE WHITE STRIPES: (Singing) The nurse should not be the one who puts salt in your wounds. But it's always with trust that the poison is fed with a spoon. When you're helpless with no one...

MOON: Compared with the bone-rattling beats of the last album, "Elephant," this is practically parlor music, but from a spooky parlor cluttered with random rock artifacts and haunted by little ghosts. Tell me there isn't a splash of Mick Jagger in this drink.

(Soundbite of music)

THE WHITE STRIPES: (Singing) So let's do it. Just get on a plane and let's do it, like the birds and the bees, and get to it. Just get of town and forever be free.

MOON: Even if that Jack White whine gets on your nerves, you have to admire his ambition. He could have just rewritten the 2003 breakthrough single "Seven Nation Army." Instead, his new songs tear off in truly unexpected directions. They call the disc "Get Behind Me Satan," but there are times when you can't help wondering whether the devil isn't riding shotgun.

(Soundbite of music)

THE WHITE STRIPES: (Singing) I was sitting there, had a comfortable chair, and that was all that I needed.

BLOCK: The disc is "Get Behind Me Satan" by The White Stripes. Tom Moon writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

(Soundbite of music)

THE WHITE STRIPES: (Singing) ...a drink for us to share, and that was all that I needed. Well, then I felt at ease, but then I'm not too hard to please. I guess they couldn't call me greedy.

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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