Black Lips – [Album]

Thursday, 02 June 2011

Every two years when Black Lips re-surface, each new recording is slightly more polished than the last and each manages to sound as though it cost nothing make. Sometimes it costs a lot to sound cheap and, with in-demand producer Mark Ronson at the helm of their new opus, the trashy garage sound synonymous with the Lips was in question. However the result is perfect with Ronson’s diverse musical taste fueling the integrity of their signature sound. 

Arabia Mountain’s subject matter is immature for the most part, however the songwriting has progressed to a perfect pop form which blends slimy hooks with snotty lyrics. The record immediately lights on fire like a roman candle shot into a gas tank with the powerful gang vocals and snarling saxophone on “Family Tree” and continues to the slightly more polished, trippy punk single “Modern Art.” Track three will likely be new fan favorite, discussing Spider Man’s one true nemesis: his abusive parents.

The Lips' ever-present southern fried riffs melted with trebly chord walls are still prevalent on Arabia Mountain but with a more professional production insight. “Mr. Driver” has some ghostly vocal hooks with Cole Alexander crooning “I want to bleed on my Squire” with the rhythm section grouped in the back, while the booze soaked confessional “Time” finds the the band chirping “Time is moving on but you keep on crying oh so long, but I keep on moving right along” in an obvious tribute to a band consistently on the road and breaking hearts. “The Lie,” a mid-album trash pile, begins softly on acoustic guitars but switches quickly to dark stormy solo pop preaching like a Baptist sermon performed by the Monkeys on whiskey and downers.

Now twelve years after they started, The Black Lips have graduated to playing larger venues, major success and a large, supportive fan base. Arabia Mountain’s sound stays true to the band’s roots and, luckily for them, Vice Records will always be more concerned with street cred over major success. As bassist Jared Swilley charmingly discloses on “New Direction,” “I wanna run but scared my legs won’t go,” which brings up an interesting question: could it be that the Lips refuse to take their music in any other direction? Let’s hope so.



Black Lips – “Modern Art” – Arabia Mountain
Black Lips – “New Direction” – Arabia Mountain

Further Reading:

Ground Control Magazine – “Strange Tales Of The Black Lips” – [Feature Article, 2011]
Ground Control Magazine – “The Black Lips: Never Not On The Road” – [Feature Article, 2008]


Arabia Mountain
comes out on June 7, 2011 via Vice Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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