Here’s a band that have everything my heart desires. They’ve got a sloppy immediacy that offers more in the way of visceral thrills than more polished bands. They’ve got an energy that is often missing even from groups that seep swagger when performing live. They follow their influences down roads that include loud guitars, blissfully shrill organs, and drums mixed mono on the left side. This band, at least at face value, have everything my heart desires.
And yet they don’t do anything for me. Over the duration of the Black Lips’ latest, Arabia Mountain, I found myself taking note of this sound or that lick, but it all seemed to fade into the background and my mind wandered off. They had it all, so why don’t they have me?
Black Lips’ sound is heavily indebted to the 1960s garage-rock/frat-rock of groups like The Sonics, Them, ? & the Mysterians, and myriad other Nuggets inductees. They take this raucous guitar-driven tack, and add a bit of post-Stooges rawness to the whole thing, even going so far as to pull off an Iggy imitation.
“Spidey’s Curse” and “Modern Art” reminded me more of The Hives than The Blues Magoos, though “Dumpster Dive” has a nice Rolling Stones strut to it. But all in all, what should have been of great enjoyment ultimately turned out to be pedestrian to my ears. I can find no technical fault with the band’s approach, as they play the hell out of their songs. I suppose I can only say that while, conceptually, Black Lips is a band that has it all, Arabia Mountain doesn’t quite translate to the thrilling garage rock experience their approach promises.
Foxboro Hottubs – Stop Drop & Roll
The Hives – Tyrannosaurus Hives
The Sonics – Boom!
Stream: Black Lips – “Modern Art”