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Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil (Cover Artwork)

Black Lips

Black Lips: Good Bad Not EvilGood Bad Not Evil (2007)
Vice Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: adamAdam
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Of course we were right to be wary of Vice. While not technically a major label (in fact, I think they lost their major backing earlier this year), they've definitely set themselves up for suspicion. Let's remember that this is a brand offshoot of a smarmy indie lifestyle magazine. For the Black Lip.
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Of course we were right to be wary of Vice. While not technically a major label (in fact, I think they lost their major backing earlier this year), they've definitely set themselves up for suspicion. Let's remember that this is a brand offshoot of a smarmy indie lifestyle magazine. For the Black Lips to take their rising star from the unquestionable grassroots of In the Red and the hallowed halls of Bomp to such a home is cause for concern. The live LP that launched their Vice career was no help. Oh, Los Valentes del Mundo Nuevo was excellent, don't get me wrong. You should own it. However, it mined the best material from the ITR and Bomp days and played them for maximum chaotic effect. John Reis produced the bloody thing. It was almost too good. It was either meant to ease the transition or document that pre-Vice band before the fall. Good records shouldn't make one more wary, but this one did. So now that the veil's been lifted on Good Bad Not Evil, what's the verdict? If Vice has afforded the band anything, it's the opportunity to pull off some creative promotional stunts. The higher profile has had zero negative effect on the band's sound. Thank heavens.

There's a pretty clear trajectory to the Lips catalog, and Good Bad Not Evil fits the pattern well. With each record the band's cleaned things up, trading off a few layers of garage distortion for better songwriting. It's not a compromise by any means, but they've come to rely on different strengths. This isn't a band that needs to fall back on Stooges-styled feedback and shocking stage antics; not anymore. As their songwriting continues to tighten we're seeing a few less few weird-for-the-sake-it diversions and more experiments with genre and structure. The album opening "Lean" feels familiar. It puts its head down and digs into a garage groove with some messy-by-design bridges that fans of Forest Spirit will certainly dig. However, it's "Katrina" that really defines today's Black Lips. The pop hooks seem almost too obvious, but they work so well against the band's raw production and twisted lyrical content. The Lips are at their best playing the lo-fi pop-punk card, keeping their tempos fast and the songs as concise as possible. "Bad Kids" and "Cold Hands" are shining examples. Much of it is lyrically blunt, but cleverly so. There's a fun dumbness to the Black Lips that isn't quite an attempt at irony, but it's definitely something the band strives for.

Regardless of how well they do it, the band's attention span is far too short to lock them into one approach. For the most part the album's diversions are quirky and odd but they never really over-stay their welcome. The country ballad "How Do You Tell a Child That Someone Has Died" is the biggest departure, but its length keeps the novelty in check. The bluesy "Lock and Key" that precedes it is much more the band's style. "Veni Vidi Vici" is a cool little psychedelic number and one of the record's most interesting compositions. Between it and the jangling Nuggets guitar work of "It Feels Alright," there's no question what the late Greg Shaw saw in these guys. Wherever they're go, this is a Bomp band at their core. "Navajo" bears mentioning as the most infuriatingly catchy song this year. Things even get folky with "Trancendental Light." Yet for all its various diversions, Good Bad Not Evil is a fairly fluid listen. The Lips have always been a fairly loose band, so it's hardly disruptive and quite a pleasure when they zig rather than zag. That's true song to song. That's true album to album.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
droote (July 26, 2012)

I liked it. It definitely has the Black Lips sound no matter how much people complain about the album being too clean-sounding.

INDW (November 27, 2007)

never heard this band prior to the review but i must say it is a shu in for end of year top tens. excellent excellent album. "how do you tell a child that someone has died" followed by "bad kids" hits a 1,2 punch like floyd mayweather can only dream.

DeadMilkMan (November 26, 2007)

'O Katrina' reminds me of 'Waiting Room' by Fugazi.

GlassPipeMurder (November 20, 2007)

"O Katrina"'s bassline does sound a lot like "April 29th, 1992" by Sublime...

Scruffy (November 17, 2007)

No, it's something that gets play on oldies radio. I'm thinking motown or Phil Spector.

branden (November 17, 2007)

scruffy, it always reminds me of that one sublime song.

Scruffy (November 17, 2007)

It's driving me crazy after listening to their myspace. What song is it that they lifted the bassline to O Katrina from?

red_eye_inc (November 16, 2007)

These guys are awesome, nice review

theyounginfluential (November 16, 2007)

i work at a radio station, this cd has never left rotation. great album.

douglas_is_rad (November 16, 2007)

This album is awesome. I love that the group is more abrasive and punk than most "punk" bands out there while still retaining a chilled out and relaxed sound. PERFECT. Still, I think that Let It Bloom is a little better. Not that I'm complaining... it's like comparing a chocolate shake to a vanilla shake: you might have a preference for one or the other, but they both still kick ass.

branden (November 16, 2007)

i would say this album is almost perfect. but off the block, and slime and oxygen are horrific filler songs and kind of bring it down a lot. i think an 8 is a great choice.

Not-To-Regret (November 16, 2007)

Fucking awesome record.
If there was a soundtrack to WWIII, Veni Vidi Vici would definitely be on there. We need more rock with soul; this has soul, and not in the punk or indie rock way, more in the studied music fan way. Thanks for coming out.

GlassPipeMurder (November 16, 2007)

Great review that has motivated me more to get into this band.

Jesus_H_Christ (November 16, 2007)

This is a really solid record. I suggest checking out their little adventures in Israel. That shit's fucking hilarious. I don't remember what website it was but when I find it I'll post the link. Once again, this record is really good. A modern band playing a sort of Stooges-meets-Velvet Underground style.

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