Black Lips: Sing in a World That's Falling Apart (Fire/Vice) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, November 27th, 2020  

Black Lips

Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart

Fire/Vice

Feb 25, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


With Black Lips, the one thing you can be sure of is that things won't stay the same. The band made their name with raucous garage rock and unhinged live shows. In the 2010s they cleaned up their sound with big-name producers such as Mark Ronson and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys. Of course, in true Black Lips fashion, the band followed those works with 2017's Satan's Graffiti or God's Art?, one of its most sprawling, loose, and experimental works to date. So how did The Black Lips switch it up this time? The band took its muddy garage sound down to its home state of Georgia and making a full-tilt country album.

Of course, country has always been a part of the band's DNA. For instance, "Dumpster Diving" off Arabia Mountain clearly shows the band's affection for bluesy country balladeering. However, this album marks the first time the sound has been explored in full record form.

From the top, "Hooker Jon" shows the band did not lose its trademark oddball sense of humor or dirty garage sound in the move to country. Honestly, the band sounds the grimiest here it has in years, with lyrics about giving your seven-year-old son LSD punctuated by a loud belch. The album is at its best when it wholeheartedly embraces this filthy country park vibe and imbues it with Black Lips' garage style.

"Rumbler," the band's tribute to the obscure G.I. Joe character—who bassist Jared Swilley posits was based on his great-uncle—is another rollicking good time. The harmonica accents, group vocals, and country storytelling all work together to great effect. "Gentleman" is also a highlight as it alternates between sweet balladeering and horn backed, sing-along refrains. It sounds like a lost cut from The Stones' Exile on Main St.—if The Rolling Stones would ever write a lyric like "I feel like a strung-out snuffleupagus/On the south side wearing Vietnamese cowboy clothes."

Unfortunately, when the band isn't playing these wild country rave-ups the songwriting can feel a bit too conventional for Black Lips. "Chainsaw" and "Holding Me Holding You" are perfectly serviceable country songs but play a bit too close to their influences and feel less distinctive as a result. The closer "Live Fast Die Slow" is the exception. The rickety instrumental, howling vocals, and distortions throughout the song feel as loose and chaotic as you'd want from a Black Lips track.

At this point, two decades into their career, this album is probably not going to win Black Lips many new fans. If you've given them a listen before and were turned off by the rough style or juvenile and weird sense of humor, the country turn probably won't win you over. If that is what you love about Black Lips though, Sing in a World That's Falling Apart delivers no shortage of crowd-pleasing, honkey-tonk fun. (www.black-lips.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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