The Black Lips are back with new album Arabia Mountain, it is their sixth studio record and the first time the band have worked with a producer, and, oddly enough, that producer is none other than Mark Ronson.
The Result is a more accessible, cleaner sound that still retains the crunchy guitars and aggressive drums elements of The Black Lips’ punk roots. The accessibility is an obvious trait from a Mark Ronson produced album, as he has accomplished this from his time collaborating with other stars such as Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, and bands such as Phantom Planet and his own band, The Business International.
The two songs on this album that were not produced by Mark Ronson create such a strong contrast between the songs that were because they are not as clean. Bicentennical Man has moments where the vocals become a little too muddy against the music, and the solos seem to flicker in and out with the mix too much without creating any kind of impact. The second song, Go Out and Get It is also disadvantaged in this because there are a lot of sounds happening at once, and while the ambition in the song is admirable, the low-fi in this song bogs it down too much.
There is a great sense of nostalgia present on Arabia Mountain, The Black Lips sound exactly like an old school punk band, with songs like Mr. Driver featuring low-fi guitars, and drawling vocals that made Bauhaus so prominent in the old school punk era.
There are a few songs that could have been left off Arabia Mountain, purely because they are not as good as the songs that kick off the album. The songs on the later stages of the LP give the impression that it drags on longer than it is, it may be sixteen tracks, and 41 minutes long, however it feels a lot longer than that.
In the end Arabia Mountain is an album that starts off with a very solid, fun first half, but the second half seems to be filled with songs that sound too similar, or songs that don’t seem to work well at all. Which is unfortunate because halfway through the album, it was beginning to grow into a contender of best album this year, but the latter half weakens it strongly.