Tuesday, March 17

Black Lips- 200 Million Thousand.

. Tuesday, March 17

Originally for Gigwise.com

2009 is evidently the year of the headache inducing record sleeve. First up there was Animal Collectives swirling magic eye piece for 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' and now comes the cover for '200 Million Thousand' the new album from flower punks Black Lips. If you squint hard enough you can make a face out of the black lines but don't stare too long however as you are likely to keel over and start frothing at the mouth. Perhaps it hypnotises you into buying the album?

Hypnotism may well be the only way to get into '200 Million Thousand' however as it is a challenging and unfocused piece of work. The 2007 album 'Good, Bad Not Evil' is a much underlooked effort and a good summation of Black Lips. They are good: making Stones esque garage 'n' blues acid fried pop seemingly held together by the very loosest of threads. They are bad: they play wild shows that see them getting naked, fighting and even getting deported but ultimately they are not evil, they just do their thing and care not one iota what anyone else thinks about it.

This attitude manifested itself in the past in a typically nihilistic punk style, but on '200 Million Suns' the loose threads have snapped and left the band who thrived on unprofessionalism exposed. Recorded in a disused Atlantan art gallery the fifteen tracks on the album are wildly varied in quality, from the experimental to the trippy by way of acid-fried jams and the occasional glimmer of hope. '200 Million Thousand' sounds as if it is at war with itself. Starting off in freefall with the woeful opening trio of 'Take My Heart', 'Drugs' and 'Starting Over' you would not be blamed for suspecting a rogue tribute band had snuck their demo tape into the box where your Black Lips CD should be. Worse is to come however on 'Let It Grow' and 'Trapped In A Basement', the latter of which pretty much sums up how the listener feels at the cat wailing and badly tuned instrumentation on display: trapped. Things do pick up however. 'Short Fuse' is poppy and upbeat with a charming, slick melody whilst 'I'l Be With You' passes a resemblance to The Kinks 'Waterloo Sunset'. 'Again and Again' is a call and response album highlight showing that when Black Lips are good they can be very good it's just that what they do can so easily veer into a muddy ditch when it needs to remain stylishly dirty at most.

As the album ends with two minutes of silence followed by five of shrieking, clattering and feedback you feel every right to be somewhat agrieved. In many ways a band like Black Lips have to be as controlled, if not more, than a band renowned for precision. Music as charmingly remshackle and lo-fi as this only works if it remains upright and cohesive. Far too often '200 Million Thousand' sounds like the work of a band content to rest on their laurels and experiment to the point of frustration. Hopefully this will be a small blip on an otherwise exemplary discography.

4/10
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5 comments:

Belu said...

Hi there,
I've been looking your profile.
You have a very good music taste.

Congratulations.

Cheers

ed said...

4/10???? whaaa, i don't know how you have come up with that outcome, i've had the album on in the office on repeat, body combat and short fuse are brilliant!
and as for their live performances well there just freakin nuts!

Mike said...

Crazy!!!
i think they may well be the best act of 2009 tbh,
if anyone wins this please give me the tickets, haha!
http://www.clashmusic.com/feature/exclusive-black-lips-competition

Jack said...

Yeah that score is very low, i cant fault the album one single bit, for any body that wishes to see them live id thoroughly recommend they do!
Sickest tour ever coming up in the uk and europe n stuff.
http://black-lips.com/p/live

hannah said...

really loving the music video that accompanies 'i'll be with you' if anyone hasn't seen it yet u can watch it here, such a sweet video with nice washed out colours.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOCozpgMAgw&feature=player_embedded

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