The White Stripes' fifth album is a collision between traditionalism and forward progress. On one hand, tunes like "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)" and the square-dance-worthy "Little Ghost" proudly display the blue-collar grit the duo perfected on four previous albums -- discs soaked in Nashville heartache and vintage Victrola blues. Increasingly, however, Satan aims for the longhairs whose version of the blues spins on classic rock stations -- i.e., Mick Jagger's posturing instead of Muddy Waters' picking.
This is especially evident on first single "Blue Orchid," a monstrous cyclone of falsetto vocals and cock-rocking guitars, and "Red Rain," where Jack White goes all Aladdin Sane on listeners with strangled, Bowie-esque yowls and wham-glam riffs. The pair's lofty goals are indicative of what a progression Satan is, though the disc is also a colorful deconstruction of the White Stripes' own past. For every straightforward hip-shaking piano boogie, there's "The Nurse," where belches of random noise mar the marimba pirouetting across the track. Flourishes like these prevent the album's conventions from sounding stale, even though its notes are sepia-toned with age.