Black Lips Arabia Mountain

Black Lips Arabia Mountain
In their 12 years, Black Lips have developed an unpredictable live show that can feature just about any depraved act imaginable. But their reputation as being greater on stage than in the studio ends with Arabia Mountain. The band's sixth album famously features production by the Grammy-winning Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Duran Duran), and while that might sound like it would be dominated by horns and a 40-piece orchestra in your imagination, you'll be surprised. Cleaning up the Lips' patented raw, scuzzy garage rock, Ronson's polish is more like a spit shine, smoothing the jagged edges of the Ramones-y "Raw Meat" with a muffled slickness and mixing the acid-trippy "Modern Art" to the point of stereophonic perfection. Next to grimy beach party blast "Go Out and Get It" and the more traditional "Bicentennial Man," both produced by Lockett Pundt, as well as the band's Stones homage, "Dumpster Dive," Ronson's eight songs don't interrupt the album's balance the way many felt they would. Instead, the Lips' most obvious evolution comes in the songwriting, which Ronson admits he had a helping hand in. The raucous Atlantans have stepped up their game, both in the hooks and brassy lyrics, which include one about Spider-Man being molested as a youngster ― growing up was never part of this renaissance. Arabia Mountain feels like a long time coming for Black Lips, but the gamble paid off, leaving a head-spinning experience for fans both new and old. (PHI)