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Black Lips Release Sing In A World That's Falling Apart

  • Published in News

Atlanta underground rock provocateurs Black Lips have released their new LP Sing In A World That's Falling Apart on Vice/Fire. Boasting an unapologetic southern-fried twang, the twelve track collection marks the quintet's most pronounced dalliance with country music yet, with a clang and harmony that is unmistakably the inimitable sound and feel of the Black Lips. While the songcraft and playing is more sophisticated, Black Lips were determined to return to the raw sound roots that marked their early efforts. Recorded and co-produced with Nic Jodoin at Laurel Canyon's legendary, newly reopened Valentine Recording Studios (which played host to Beach Boys and Bing Crosby before shuttering in 1979) without Pro-Tools and other contemporary technology, the band banged the album out directly to tape quickly and cheaply, resulting in their grimiest, most dangerous, and best collection of songs since the aughts.

Like The Byrds, who flirted with pastoral aesthetics before going all-out with the radical departure that was Sweetheart of The Rodeo, the Black Lips have been skirting the edges of country since ‘Sweet Kin’ and ‘Make It’ from their eponymous debut. But eschewing Gram Parson's earnestness, Black Lips are careful not to hint at authenticity, wisely treading into their unfeigned rustic romance with the winking self-awareness of Bob Dylan's ‘You Ain't Goin Nowhere’, Rolling Stones ‘Dear Doctor’, or The Velvet Underground's ‘Lonesome Cowboy Bill’.

The band's stylistic evolution and matured approach to musicianship and writing is, in part, due to the seismic lineup shifts they have undergone over the last half decade. Worn down after a decade of prolific touring and recording, longtime guitarist Ian St Pé left the group in 2014, followed shortly thereafter by original drummer Joe Bradley. Jeweller/actress (and now Gucci muse) Zumi Rosow, whose sax skronk, flamboyant style, and wild stage presence had augmented the team before the duo's departure, assumed a bigger writing and performance role in their absence. Soon drummer Oakley Munson from The Witnesses brought a new backbeat and unique backing vocal harmony into the fold. Last year the quintet was rounded out by guitarist Jeff Clarke of Demon's Claws. The newly forged partnership, all of whom collaborate as songwriters, vocalists, and instrumentalists, has breathed new life into their sound. The result is akin to the radiance of the impulsive, wild nights where you find yourself two-stepping into the unknown.




Black Lips - Satan's Graffiti Or God's Art?

  • Published in Albums


Time certainly flies. Having seen Black Lips only last summer at Primavera Sound it hardly seems possible that it’s in fact three years since they released Underneath The Rainbow. Three it is though and Satan's Graffiti Or God's Art? is here to progress the band’s story further.

Clearly it’s an ambitious work, comprising as it does 18 songs. Have they over-reached themselves or will this prove to be their magnum opus?

Stylistically Black Lips aren’t really a band that can go anywhere new. Sure they can work with the likes of Mark Ronson to tweak their sound one way or the other but ultimately they have a limited palate to work with, which is fair enough & so we can’t really expect anything drastic from them on this their eighth album in 14 years.

Sean Lennon’s behind the controls on this one & for that reason or some other his mum is involved on backing vocals on one track or other. I’ve not let that put me off and you shouldn’t let it influence you either.

Expanded to a five-piece with a new drummer & the addition of a saxophonist (along with the return of guitarist Jack Hines after 13 years) Black Lips open up Satan's Graffiti Or God's Art? with ‘Overture : Sunday Mourning’, surely a sign that something serious is about to go down.

Initially it seems like business as usual – the band pound away in the style you’d expect with the saxophone adding an interesting extra texture to things (it’s not quite The Zutons but Zumi Rosow makes her presence felt). Three (proper) songs in the pace slows, with the country tinged ‘The Last Culdesac’ followed by the sleazy stomp of ‘Got Me All Alone’ reining things back.

Is ‘Crystal Night’ an ode to a love lost on Kristallnacht? If so then the Pinky & Perky vocal effects could easily be viewed as disrespectful. Then again maybe it’s about getting wasted on meth. Either way it kind of sets the tone for the disjointed nature of the remainder of the album – pairs of upbeat tracks broken up by cod ballads in the pseudo country & western style the band favour now and again.  

At the halfway point there’s an Interlude (‘Elektrik Spiderwebz’) which further disrupts the flow. Blur did this sort of thing much better on Modern Life Is Rubbish.

Ultimately Satan's Graffiti Or God's Art? offers up no surprises and nor is it the band’s crowning glory. It’s a Black Lips album so maybe you weren’t expecting much more than it delivers anyway. They rarely sound like they’re trying very hard and this certainly maintains that studiedly laidback approach. It’s fine, you’ll still be playing it in years to come.

Satan's Graffiti Or God's Art? is available from amazon & iTunes.

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