The White Stripes took their punk blues sound to the next level with this stylish neo-plastic jumble. Jack Gillis and Meg White met as teenagers in Detroit, Michigan and, when they got married, Jack took his wife's surname. After Jack played as a drummer in various local punk bands, Meg decided to start playing the drums and the couple became a band on their own. They released their eponymous debut on the independent Sympathy for the Record Industry label in 1999. Their second album 'De Stijl' was recorded at home on an 8-track analog tape with Jack White on guitar, piano, lead vocals, and double bass; and Meg White on drums, tambourine, backing vocals, shaker and floortom; with John Szymanski adding harmonica on "Hello Operator"; Paul Henry Ossy contributing violin on "I'm Bound to Pack It Up" and electric violin on "Why Can't You Be Nicer to Me?"; and Dominique Payette playing the world's smallest violin on " Jumble Jumble".
The album takes its title from the Dutch art movement that is characterized by a reduction to the essentials of form and color. Jack White reflects: "We made a mistake with our second album, recording it in my living room. It's too distracting to be at home and do that kind of thing. You're better off when you're away from town, and you've got no choice but to get down to brass tacks...When I was a teenager and started apprenticing and working on furniture, I started really loving all these furniture designers, and I got into Gerrit Rietveld–he did "Red And Blue Chair," which is a super-important piece. That got me into the De Stijl movement. I thought that was great, how they broke things down to their simplest components...I like when people limit themselves. I love when artists do something with very little opportunity. I love forced creation. I used to own a record by William S. Burroughs, called Break Through In Grey Room. I always thought that was so great, just him in a room with a recording machine, cutting up the tape. I love that notion, anyone saying "I'm going to set up rules for myself and live by them." You find that in the great designers and the great architects and the great painters and the great songwriters, I think... It's appealing to know that people had standards. I think people are always attracted to that. If you were touring the house of some old famous person, and he never liked any lightbulbs in the house, and he only lit the house by candle... People are so enthused by that. "Oh, that's interesting that he had these rules." It makes you feel like this guy lived by certain notions that propelled him to be happy and to create. I like that idea. It at least symbolizes that that person is working toward something. When you see flagrant excess and rule-breaking and chaos in songwriting and art nowadays, you think that it's not really coming from anything, that they're just getting lucky."
'De Stijl' charted at one hundred and sixty-four in France, one hundred and thirty-seven in the UK, and thirty-eight on the US independent album chart.
"You're Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)"
"Truth Doesn't Make a Noise"
"Your Southern Can Is Mine"
All songs written by Jack White except where noted.
1. "You're Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)" 1:49
2. "Hello Operator" 2:36
3. "Little Bird" 3:06
4. "Apple Blossom" 2:13
5. "I'm Bound to Pack It Up" 3:09
6. "Death Letter" Eddie James "Son" House 4:29
7. "Sister, Do You Know My Name?" 2:52
8. "Truth Doesn't Make a Noise" 3:14
9. "A Boy's Best Friend" 4:22
10. "Let's Build a Home" 1:58
11. "Jumble, Jumble" 1:53
12. "Why Can't You Be Nicer to Me?" 3:22
13. "Your Southern Can Is Mine" William Samuel "Blind Willie" McTell 2:29