With Mark Ronson on production
Black Lips - Arabia Mountain

After five albums of shamelessly retro ‘flower punk’, sounding not unlike the tracks from the Nuggets boxset you skip, production duties are handed over to everybody’s favourite celebrity producer with crap hair, Mark Ronson. Over half of the album was recorded during a ten-day bender in Brooklyn, and a similarly intoxicated state might well be the way to enjoy this record as, in the cold light of day, it seems to be trying slightly too hard, like the friend whose stories always start with “I was really drunk...”

Which is not to say that the sixteen songs here are particularly bad - after all, you still speak to that friend, don’t you? - but their wilfully shambolic drive is best taken in small doses. ‘Bicentennial Man’ is a fine burst of late-Sixties inspired garage rock and ‘Raw Meat’ is an irresistibly cheery, under-two-minute adrenalin rush replete with a fine bit of whistling. If The Drums’ debut seemed oddly polished and soulless to you, and I imagine it did, then ‘Arabia Mountain’ could scratch that particular itch.

Production is loud and punchy and even the quiet bits aren’t quiet, which makes all sixteen tracks in one sitting a bit like hard work. The churlishly lopsided album closer ‘You Keep On Running’ is so completely indulgent it makes you wonder if they’re taking the piss. A bit of determined cherry-picking will improve matters no end, although when the odd song pops up on shuffle, it’ll raise a smile.


Words by Gareth James

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