De Stijl

If the Who played "maximum R&B," then you could call the White Stripes' music "minimum R&B": blues-tinged rock & roll scaled back to its most essential elements — one guitar, a simple drum kit and sneering vocals. The second album by the Detroit couple, De Stijl, is feisty and clever, full of scuzzy garage rock that would fit nicely on a Nuggets compilation between the Sonics and the Standells. Guitarist Jack White's clipped strumming on "Jumble, Jumble" evokes the Sonics' classic "The Witch," while the vaudeville-style "Apple Blossom" echoes Village Green Preservation Society-era Kinks. The Stripes' quirks are more delightfully apparent live, but on songs like "Hello Operator," you can hear how White's knack for phrasing — both his vocals and guitar lines — gives the songs the feel of improvisation. And Meg White's drumming is so minimal that it's almost funny: It forces a smile because, like everything about the White Stripes, it proves that you don't need bombast to make a blues explosion.