Black Lips – Sing In a World That’s Falling Apart
Black Lips indulge their country side on latest album, Sing In a World That's Falling Apart
After a period of dabbling with a cleaner sound, 2017’s Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? went some way to returning a fundamental griminess to the Black Lips. On their new album they manage to double down on this quality while moving elsewhere, instead making a record that is their most explicitly country-influenced to date. Of course this is not some wild deviation. Even at their most straightforwardly garage rock they have always had a rattle to their sound that feels essentially country, but here they indulge in this influence completely to mixed effect.
They make no bones of what they want the record's sound to be and for the first four songs they really hammer it home. They take pre-existing country rhythms and progressions, and play them with a feral energy and with all the textures rendered more abrasive. This early run of songs is perfectly enjoyable and the lyrics play superbly with country clichés, but rarely does it reach towards the quality we know the band to be capable. That is until lead single Gentleman turns up and gives the album the kick it needs. Moving towards a more Stones-y anthemic sound – complete with twinkling pianos and sax lines that practically wave a lighter themselves – allows them to reinterpret the classic country narrative of someone trying to clean themselves up for the person they love into something both timely and moving.
The record is at it’s best when they allow these other influences to filter in. Georgia begins as a perfectly passable, slightly souped-up Tennessee Three homage, but through slowly adding disco drums and soul sax it becomes something genuinely rousing. Closer Live Fast Die Slow with its popping vocal effects and scraping distortions sounds like a country record in the process of warping before your ears and shows a different strand to the Black Lips' expertise at perfectly executed chaos.
For a band who spent years being dubbed the saviours of straight-up garage rock their talent has always been synthesising disparate genres, and that remains here. However, one is just left to rue that they seem perhaps too tied to their concept in the record's early stages to allow their more esoteric nature to come out.
Listen to: Gentleman, Georgia, Live Fast Die Slow