The White Stripes return to hard-rocking blues on 'Icky Thump'

Maybe it's too much to say that the White Stripes saved rock 'n' roll, but the Detroit duo certainly energized it with their daring, blues-drenched sound.

Since their 1999 straight-from-the-garage debut, Jack and Meg White have upped the intensity and creativity on each of their five albums. The pseudo-siblings deliver again on the sixth, "Icky Thump" - a raucous, foot-stomping record that makes a satisfying follow-up to 2005's folk-tinged "Get Behind Me Satan."

Where "Satan" was subdued, "Thump" stands up and demands attention.

The slide guitar is snarly and unforgiving on "Catch Hell Blues." "Little Cream Soda" is fueled by a driving bassline and heavy-metal riffs. The playful "Rag and Bone" is good ol' rocking blues, and "Bone Broke" is so stripped down, it could have been on the band's first album.

The Stripes always inject their music with a shot of unpredictability: they change tempo mid-song, punctuate acoustic tracks with episodes of heavy distortion and fearlessly sample from a range of influences and instruments.

They turn to tango trumpets for a Latin-flavored cover of Patti Page's "Conquest" and weave bagpipes and mandolin through the Celtic-inspired "A Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn."

Jack White shows his Zeppelin roots on "I'm Slowly Turning Into You" and "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)," channeling Jimmy Page and Robert Plant on chops and vocals.

But he keeps on reaching for something fresh, making new Stripes' music - and, by extension, rock 'n' roll - something to be excited about.

The title track gives a taste of what the album is about: hard rock with thumping drums and slithery guitar solos, with a defiant Jack White getting down.