[sic] Magazine

Black Lips – Underneath The Rainbow

There’s garage-rock, -punk, -psyche and then there’s Black Lips, swampy specialists in such 2-3 minute party jams for well over a decade. Yet, in the three years since Arabia Mountain bands like Thee Oh Sees have risen to prominence threatening the band’s crown. So, what do the Atlanta boys have in the tank for their seventh LP? More of the same it turns out in the main, which for some bands would be a major problem but not for Black Lips.

Much of Underneath The Rainbow could be taken from their stellar back catalogue and whilst it does also contain a number of relatively inconspicuous moments (often those handled by one of the album’s producers – Patrick Carney of The Black Keys) its highlights are pure gold. As such you’ve got groove-heavy tracks like “Do The Vibrate”, which crushes it with a spidery bassline and a title-line that will be yelled back in the band’s faces on all forthcoming tours. It’s a real sloppy schlock-rock treat that borrows as much from The B52s and The Cramps as it does more traditional Lips touchstones.

More familiar, the 60s garage-psyche riot “Drive-By Buddy” has the boys “hanging on a broken T-bird hood”, their Southern drawl slapped on thick and fruity. Ramshackle rock ‘n’ roll has always been a Black Lips calling card and so it again here proves. Co-written with Mastodon’s Brent Hinds, “Make You Mine” chucks some iconic Bill Haley-style guitar in to strengthen the mix. Naturally, scrappy melodies still abound too and the bratty-but-breezy “Smiling” is the sort of thing UK label Art Is Hard would kill to have on their roster. In turn, “Funny” and “Dog Year”, the latter of which was written with Bradford Cox, owe a sizeable debt to Mick Jagger and co, strutting and sneering with unstoppable momentum one minute, tumbling along in a stoned haze the next.

Doing what they do best but coming at it from a different angle, the bluesy first single “Boys In The Wood” is a bit of a detour to say the least with its slow crunch and super-cool harmonies, but so too does it most accurately capture Black Lips as the good-time bros they are – kicking back, getting high and getting liquored at the fringes of society– a neat summation of the band’s career as a whole if ever there were one. That crown may not be a halo but Underneath The Rainbow ensures it remains in place.

Best tracks: “Boys In The Wood” and “Do The Vibrate”

~Underneath The Rainbow is out now via Vice.~