Most of Elephant consists of vague songs devoid of a clear position—moral or otherwise. The few exceptions explore a man’s desire to be near the woman he loves (“In the Cold, Cold Night,” “Hypnotize”) and impress her mom (“I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s Heart”). It’s suggested that breaking big problems into “Little Acorns” will make them more manageable.
A line on “The Hardest Button to Button” finds the singer recalling how he stopped his baby brother’s crying by sticking pins in a doll, voodoo style. Bored with life, his thoughts turn to a strangely obsessive love for his mother (“The Air Near My Fingers”).
Detroit natives Megan White and John Gillis (aka Jack White) are introducing a whole new generation to psychedelic fuzz guitar and the lyrical obscurity of late-’60s Beatles tunes. Very retro. As sonically stylish as the disc is, cuts fail to register as life-changingly positive or deeply troubling, making The White Stripes’ magical mystery tour as thematically gray as the pachyderm for which it is named.