Not only are the 16 songs on Cells better than the quieter moments of its predecessor; they positively bludgeon them to death. Jack White's notable command of guitar tone is pushed to its limits on this set of jackhammering monstrosities, and Meg's primitive percussion sounds more and more like a mob of drunken derelicts stumbling through an alley. The Stripes' noise is a mugging of the blues: the smart-ass punk kids stealing its bedeviled soul to carry into the bleak future. But the Stripes don't stay in the stark Mississippi Delta eternally. "Hotel Yorba" is a sturdy swipe at some form of alternative country, "I Think I Smell a Rat" is weirdly vaudevillian, and "Little Room" is all aesthetic manifesto. Regardless of a song's style or form, Jack and Meg play everything on Cells loud -- which, considering the near-deafening media buzz that seems to accompany everything they do nowadays, is most likely out of necessity.