Arabia Mountain by The Black Lips
Atlanta Georgia’s own The Black Lips have created quite the reputation for themselves. Influenced by the ragged hooks of the late 60’s garage-pop bands and creating walls of psychedelic studio noise, the Lips have been known to create a chaotic jumble that is as messy as it is youthful and fun. Ever since their start in 2003 they have released a constant stream of albums and EP’s showcasing their endless-summer vibe without ever truly changing course or surprising their devoted fans. Until now…
On their seventh official release, Arabia Mountain, The Black Lips have enlisted the help of fellow 60’s pop fanatic and studio wunderkind Mark Ronson to produce and whip them into shape. Known for his work with Amy Winehouse, Ronson has built a reputation for recreating the orchestral sounds and precision of the Motown era with a new updated slant, and on this album he does wonders for this rowdy group of delinquents. By cutting out the noise and reverb of their older records and concentrating on the bare instrumentation of the band and their songs, he has made the Black Lips sound more dynamic and focused than they ever have before. It also helps that this album is perhaps the strongest collection of tunes the band has written to date.
Song after song, the Lips stick to a strict regiment of quick and simple rock and roll with hooks for days. Directly after the first drum roll of the opener “Family Tree” the pace of the album never ceases to let up, kicking through sixteen songs filled with handclaps and sing-along choruses. Even sillier numbers such as the ode to Spider-man “Spidey’s Curse” and the Stones-ish swagger of “Dumpster Dive” seem to deliver the goods and help the album flow from track to track. Perhaps the most impressive of the songs on Arabia Mountain is “Raw Meat.” It’s a song that finds the Black Lips doing their best Ramones impression while delivering an impossible to forget whistling refrain.
Although it is an incredibly strong effort, this album may disappoint long-time fans of this band, as it is a step in a new direction. But with songs these good, fans will soon have to embrace the face that The Black Lips are starting to come to terms with the pop-sensibilities that have always been kicking around in their hearts. Luckily for them they have found a producer who understands their true nature and how to make them a better band without compromising their aesthetic entirely.
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