Black Lips are one of the most prolific garage rock bands today, releasing six albums in only eight years. On their latest, Arabia Mountain, they got a fancy-shmancy big name producer. That would be Mark Ronson, the man who made Amy Winehouse a star and probably one of the most in-demand producers today. Working with such a slick knob turner seems like a strange move for a band as famously lo-fi as Black Lips. Worry not! The Lips don’t come off sounding like Duran Duran. Ronson clears away some of the fuzz ‘n’ buzz but as a good producer, he knows his client and he knows their audience. There’s still plenty of dirty garage-punk. It’s just that now a song like “Family Tree” flies out of the speaker rather than being shrouded in feedback. Ronson’s presence is mostly felt in the occasional addition of horns, something he’s become known for. This is done most awesomely on “Mad Dog” with a baritone sax line that totally makes the song.
Black Lips break out their favorite theremin on few songs to remind you it’s their album. It’d be pretty hard to forget though. They always make their influences apparent, like on “Dumpster Dive” (the Rolling Stones) or “Don’t Mess Up My Baby” (The Sonics, The Standells, basically every 60’s garage band). They’ve also always had a way with writing songs about things you wouldn’t think to write a song about. Here they sing about Spiderman, dumpster diving, eating meat, and doing drugs at the Louvre.
Black Lips have been rolling along at a furious pace and they haven’t run out of steam yet. I’m excited to see what they put out next. I’m sure I won’t have to wait long.