Under Review

Black Lips

Arabia Mountain (Vice Records)

Review By Nathan Pike


Modern Art

This is some scuzzy, gross music, but it’s also kind of irresistible. Such is the charm of Black Lips, a band that has based their career on playing loud, dirty and extremely catchy garage punk songs coupled with notoriously spirited shows. With their latest effort, Arabia Mountain, the band has, for the first time in their decade long career, enlisted a producer in the form of Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Duran Duran). The results are a more immediate and cleaner sound allowing the songwriting to be showcased more fluently. Ronson has done an excellent job of allowing the band to do what they do without overdosing them on producer polish. With barely a lucid moment to be found, Arabia Mountain’s 16 tracks feature plenty of grime.

Opening track “Family Tree” hits hard and fast, coming at you like a drunk monkey with a broken skronky horn. Later on, the weirdly whimsical ‘60s-style pop gem “Spidey’s Curse” paints a tale of Peter Parker having an abusive, shadowy childhood. Oddball closer “You Keep On Running,” meanwhile, is a woozy, drug-fueled journey that brings to mind being drunk and stoned on hash in the desert.

There is no taking away from the energy these cats put into their music. They take the sounds of yore, inject some manic, sweat-drenched punch into everything they do and make it anything but boring. Though a producer has been brought in to tidy things up a bit, this is still true-to-form, scrappy as hell Black Lips and proves that a comb through the hair won’t take the grime from a kid who revels in his snot-nosed, bratty ways.