Fans of the rowdy and balls-to-the wall style of the Black Lips are in for something new on the groups sixth album, Arabia Mountain. The Atlanta-based band summoned the swanky retro touch of producer Mark Ronson, whose finesse creates an album thats a more refined version of the Lips than demonstrated on previous releases. But fear not, the Black Lips dont give up their carefree, hell-raising lyrics and vibes but offer a tighter and shinier product with Arabia.
Ronsons presence stays true to the Black Lips psychedelic and flower punk influences while giving Arabia Mountain the feel of wafting out of a crackly FM radio. Roaring opener Family Tree entices the listener into a raucous and energetic trip that doesnt let up until the fuzzy You Keep on Running emits its last foggy note blended with fading beat-boxing. Arabia is framed with warped surf-rock and woven in with dirty hooksRonsons signature throwback sound that makes this album gleam and move faster than its 16 tracks let on. Chiming guitars on Peter Parker ode Spiders Curse complement experimental studio sounds like the bands alleged use of a human skull with a microphone inside.
Bicentennial Man, Go Out and Get It, and New Direction offer blissed-out, handclap-driven summer tunes with gritty smirks in tow. Arabia Mountains unifying thread of bleary guitar and blissed-out beach vibe floats throughout every track without sounding overdone or stale. Touches of sax (Mad Dog) and floating piano (Dumpster Diving) help support the album’s wandering groove, trademarked by the Lips snarky songwriting. Recent live gigs have seen a more mature Black Lips, and with Ronsons influence, their latest effort makes for an album worthy of several spins this summer and numerous re-visits.