With Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo (released in February via Vice), everyone who hadn’t been able to make it to a Black Lips’ (in)famous live set got a taste of what they were missing: hard, fast, noisy garage rock where copious amounts of alcohol and nudity change sweet ’60s tunes into behemoths of fuzz and hedonism. (Or, rather, pure fun.) On Good Bad Not Evil, their fourth studio album, Cole Alexander, Jerry Swilley and company turn down the needle from eleven and use production flourishes that would do the Electric Prunes proud.
Opener “I Saw a Ghost (Lean)” channels a lost Stooges riff as Alexander spews forth bile, the lyrics as inane and apocalyptic as you’d expect from an album titled Good Bad Not Evil: “If you’re trying messing/ to the holy ghost/ Watch the rainbow blur/ It’s looking kind of gross.” By the time the backward guitars kick in, you’ve either given yourself over to the “trip” or not. But the whole thing is so gloriously juvenile that it’s hard not to grin and dance — it truly sounds like some poor white kids from the wrong side of Atlanta decided one day to make a band and never looked back. There’s “O Katrina!,” a love song set in — where else? — New Orleans. And “Navajo,” a punkabilly incantation of “I’ve Been Everywhere,” replacing cities with Native American tribes and a drum circle. White-trash blues fills “Lock and Key” and “It Feels Alright,” Swilley driving a relentless bass, gangly guitars everywhere.
The country shtick reaches a low with the Byrds take-off “How Do You Tell a Child That Someone Has Died?,” a meandering and irony-filled track that nearly halts the album. But as long as the bad taste doesn’t overwhelm the abrasive rock ‘n’ roll, the lyrics remain endearing, as in the two-step of “Bad Kids,” featuring sleigh bells and a glockenspiel. The Black Lips are the Beach Boys from hell, metaphorically in “Cold Hands” and literally in “Veni Vidi Vici.” Two of the closing tracks could have been featured on De Capo, they are so tuned into the psychedelic underground. The album isn’t original, but that’s the point. As James Murphy might put it, it’s “all the underground hits.”
“Not a Problem” MP3: http://www.vicerecords.com/download/Black_Lips-Not_A_Problem.mp3Cold Hands: MP3: http://www.vicerecords.com/download/Black_Lips-Cold_Hands.mp3