Being into the Black Lips says much more about what kind of person you are than what kind of music you like. With a discography that runs the gamut from grime-ridden, reverberated punk to jangly, glistening pop to steel-toed, outlaw rock, the Black Lips shed their skin on every chaotic impulse and leave only the common thread of an untraceable, hooligan self-assurance behind. Black Lips fandom means hopping in the back seat of the band’s souped-up hot rod and letting them take you on whatever rampageous journey they dream up, knowing that you’ll end up in some illusory fantasy land, whiplashed and wondering how you got there. Expect the unexpected, or whatever Oscar Wilde said.
That’s why it isn’t shocking that the Black Lips’ unsatiable itch for shape-shifting rears its snarling, hydra-headed mug on their tenth studio album, ‘Apocalypse Love’. It’s a freakshow, a madcap collection of misfit anthems tinged in sardonic absurdity, with the Lips’ signature snarl all over it. ‘No Rave’ is an incendiary opener, romping and stomping with a laser-focused club kid groove and spellbinding Paganist fright. ‘Lost Angel’ is a soundtrack of desperado carnality, amber with the scorch of wild-Western cinema. Title track ‘Apocalypse Love’ is a twangy, Bonnie-and-Clydian country ballad set against the mushroom cloud at the end of the world.
‘Sharing My Cream’ might be the shiniest jewel in the Black Lips’ gilded crown of idiosyncratic oddity, so comically eccentric and indescribably quirky that it’s immune to criticism. ‘The Concubine’ is a fitting end to this jaunt through the Lips’ funhouse of hallucinatory mania. The beginning of the track emits the 1960s rock ‘n’ roll-reminiscent love-struck sweetness so integral to the Black Lips’ aura, but the song’s twinkly sound fades into spectral cacophony and ends with TV static, a reminder of the record’s striking Lynchian oddity.
The Black Lips have always been impossible to pin down, but this record sees them getting increasingly feral. ‘Apocalypse Love’ is a primal cry, a maniacal love letter to their sonic anarchy and the unpredictability of the world we live in. It’s a discordant record, swerving through genres and emotions at breakneck speed, but that’s what the Black Lips are all about. To quote Oscar Wilde again, “Moderation is a fatal thing.” In that case, the Black Lips are immortal.
Words: Bella Savignano