The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Black Lips
Arabia Mountain Isobel George , June 17th, 2011 07:15

It's always mystifying when people accuse music of being stupid as if that's automatically a bad thing. It's all to do with how you wear your musical stupidity. If, like say Editors, you wear your stupidity like a mope-grey overcoat with edgy upturned collar thinking that this will grant you place in rock's grim-faced annals, that is the bad kind of moronic. If you wear it, like Black Lips most likely would, with pineapple-print shorts, no shoes, one of those hats with an arrow through the head and a clam shell-bra, then you are my kind of goof.

200 Million Thousand proved they had depth if you wanted it, with soupy hip-hop trips and obscure moods clouding the sunshine-fried freak pop that made Good Bad Not Evil such a charmer. In truth, though, depth is not what anyone with sense wants from a band like Black Lips. That's why pairing them with the master of millimetres-deep vintage veneer Mark Ronson was something of a stroke of genius. The mild zaniness, Urban Outfitters retro chic and bouncy warmth that characterises his production is a beautiful fit for the good-natured daftness and bad-seed cheek of these Atlantan berks.

They get their skinny weird on with the closing track 'You Keep On Running', a vibed-out garagey howler with Cole Alexander's vocals recorded through (woooo) a human skull, but truth be told there's nothing scarier on this album than youth-detention order candidates egging your house on Halloween. From the bouncy opener 'Family Tree' via the bawling tribute to a baseball mascot that is 'Noc-A-Homa' to the goofy hymn to freaking out in the gallery of 'Modern Art', 'Arabia Mountain' reeks of youth, fun and summer sweat. Not that it's thoughtless; it's to Black Lips credit that an intelligent, wickedly funny bunch of guys who are every bit as much aficionados of the 60s weirder corners as The Horrors make knocking out such a tune-packed, consistently great album sound so effortless while never feeling the need to go 'no, look, we're really clever. We've heard of obscure things. And that is why, posterity be damned, I'm with stupid.