Known more for their lo-fi atheistic approach and unpredictability live shows, Black Lips sixth studio album Arabia Mountain sees the Atlanta based group return with a strong and vibrant album that has been dusted over with a cleaner production, with them harnessing the skills of producer extraordinaire Mark Ronson, who despite being wider known as a master of pop songs has a unaffiliated love of music and capturing that 60s tone, something that became obvious with the 60s tinge of Amy Winehouse’s Back In Black album. In addition to enlisting the services of Ronson, Arabia Mountain also sees Black Lips recruiting a fellow Atlantian, Lockett Pundt from Deerhunter, to take the helm of production on a couple of tracks.

Upon first listen to Arabia Mountain, it is notable that the lo-fi charm offensive usually found on previous Black Lips records has been turned down, what you find underneath is a cleaner production from Ronson with additional drips of Brass that are trademark Ronson, with Black Lips proving they certainly have not lost their touch when it comes to writing psych-garage rock’n’roll songs, with the majority of Arabia Mountain taking you back to their 2007 album Good Bad Not Evil. However where Arabia Mountain differs is there is now a more mature sound to the music, something which no doubt has been influenced by the work of Ronson and Pundt. Album opener ‘Family Tree’ sees Black Lips starting with a trademark scuzzy riff that bops and bounces along, but this time with the addition of a subtle brass overlay, a feature that also comes to light on ‘Mad Dog’. Along with the addition of the brass ‘Mad Dog’ also includes vocal “ahhhs” that throw you straight back to a feeling of the psychedelic 60s, making you realise that Black Lips still know how to smash out 60s Garage Rocks, something that is proven on tracks such as ‘Go Out And Get It’ and ‘Time’ that are more reminiscent of the Good Bad Not Evil Black Lips era.

Arabia Mountain may seem to be more polished, all be it a small amount, but what it does show that even though it is their sixth album these twenty-something guitar-wielding hoodlums are showing no sign of letting up as they continuously progress. It also seems a fitting time for Black Lips, with what seems as an entire city of lo-fi and garage bands popping up left, right and centre it seems fitting that Black Lips have returned just in time to raise the bar and retain their crown as today’s garage rock kings. Others take note; this is how to be a band.

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