After 2009's 200 Million Thousand, the murky, messy bummer of a record that stalled the Black Lips' career, the longtime Atlanta psych-garage band suddenly seemed at risk of becoming a novelty act known more for its chemically fueled R-rated on- and offstage antics (which included, but were not limited to, getting chased out of India) than the music.
Perhaps as a statement of seriousness about their future as legit recording artists, the band's members hired British hit-maker Mark Ronson (who helmed the late Amy Winehouse's breakout, Back to Black) to hasten their call-up to the big leagues. And the result, last year's Arabia Mountain, was a success.
Longtime Lips fans who like the band for its off-kilter homages to Roky Erickson and other Nuggets-era garage acts can breathe a sigh of relief, because the record is a tighter, hookier extension of 2007's excellent Good Bad Not Evil. Expect a collective shrug, however, from those still awaiting the band's long-anticipated breakout.
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On Arabia, the Lips fail to (or choose not to) significantly up the ante on songwriting or creative vision. While the big time continues to wait for the Black Lips' arrival, the rest of us will just have to help keep the party going.