In an era of heart-on-sleeve Americana, the Black Lips are up to something else on …Sing In a World That’s Falling Apart. Black Lips approach Americana in this record in half parody and half serious mode. It embraces the ugly with their tongues sticking out instead of buried in their cheek. The record takes traditional stylings, music-wise, and piles the stereotypes over the top. In some ways the record reminds me of Ween’s 12 Golden Country Greats, just without the Weenerisms. Yeah, that’s a new word I plan to stick with.
Things kick off with “Hooker Jon,” which highlights the farcical lyrical tone that continues through the record. It’s over the top, and it gives something of a misleading first impression because the next few songs to follow are far more serious in sound. “Chainsaw,” “Gentleman,” and “Get It On Time” sound honest and traditional. The lyrics still wink, but it’s less blatant than on “Hooker Jon” or the later love song “Odelia” with it’s humbling and arguably complementary refrain of “You’re so very common, still Odelia/ My heart is racing...”
While this is billed as a change-of-pace switcheroo from a veteran band making its ninth album, …Sing suits their style surprisingly well. Returning to “Gentleman,” which is a country ballad with an overly dramatic horn and dynamic instrumental arrangement, the song still has that Black Lips stamp all over it with yelps and hollering vocals. That go-where-the-road-takes-us spirit defines the bluesy piano of “Angola Rodeo” too, fitting neatly between the unrestrained garage-rock the band is known for and freewheeling southern rock. “Dishonest Men” is a backwoods barn dance shaker. “The Locust” and “Get It On Time” show that the band also takes things seriously, even with the silliness sprinkled in.
I’m not sure the record is going to attract new fans, but it should satisfy the core while showing some new life. It neatly straddles the line between the band’s discography and expectations, pulling influence from an unexpected source with some playful parody. Like the Ween record I brought up to start, Sing… works because the band pays homage to traditional music while also being truthful to themselves. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a pleasant ride.
7.0 / 10
Posted March 3, 2015, 5:58 p.m.
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Posted Feb. 25, 2014, 7:52 a.m.
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