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LISTEN IN: The Black Lips latest hits musical funny bone

Published 11:00am Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Black Lip’s “Arabia Mountain” is one of the funnest albums in years.

Very little of the album produces revolutionary sound or unique moods. In fact, many parts will remind you of songs you can’t quite put your finger on. Much of it sounds like riffs re-mixed from classic songs into a new album.

But still, “Arabia Mountain” hits you like a sock in the mouth. The Black Lips waste no time throughout a 16-track, 41-minute album. “You Keep Running” is the longest song at 4:25 by more than a minute, only two songs clock in longer than three minutes.

The band has described their sound as “flower-punk.” But it isn’t so much flowery as it is playful.

sThe Black Lips substitute punk angst for playfulness.

Punk is most commonly equated with rebellion and dissent. True to form, The Black Lips have produced their fair share of controversy, especially with their live shows. The band has been kicked out of multiple clubs for over-the-top stage antics.

While the album isn’t quite over-the-top, it’s a collection of giddy garage jams about demons, Peter Parker (Spider-Man), a bicentennial man and dumpster diving.

The lack of seriousness doesn’t make it any less fun. The album blasts off somewhere between early rock revival and surf punk on “Family Tree,” a punk rock tune to catch some waves to, but with a Halloween-like echo.

Parts of “Modern Art” sound like a less-violent version of The Stooges, and it’s no less addictive.

“Mad Dog” kicks off with a jazz saxophone, and delves again into surf rock, and the tune is insatiably catchy. The vocals alternate between suave punk and emo-like whines that occasionally sound child-like and tread the line of annoying.

“Dumpster Dive” hearkens to “Exile Main St.” era Rolling Stones songs. Such tunes reveal the album’s biggest strengths and weaknesses: It’s pleasantly familiar and it’s instantly relatable.

This can be a plus, because the album is easily appreciated on the first listen.

But at the same time, there’s little left to discover on subsequent listens. Such songs are taylor built for live performaces.

If your after upbeat summer jams, look no further. If your hoping for an album that will get better over multiple listens, keep looking.

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