CD Of The Week: 'Arabia Mountain' by Black Lips
For their sixth album, self-proclaimed Atlanta, Ga., “flower punk” band Black Lips (who last released the excellently noisy 200 Million Thousand in 2009) have teamed up with an unlikely ally — pop mastermind Mark Ronson, the glittery producer that most recently crafted last year’s amazing Duran Duran album (and released a dynamite solo album on his own). At the intersection of slick pop theatricality and the jangly, who-gives-a-fuck sound of Black Lips lies Arabia Mountain, and the results aren’t as jarring as you’d imagine. What Ronson has done is refine the band’s sound, softening the guitars slightly and making the vocals actually understandable, but without losing any of the band’s freewheeling energy. This new aesthetic is evident from the get-go, with the kick-ass first song “Family Tree” setting the pace, through songs like the hand-clappy “New Direction,” which sounds like it should be played at the greatest beach party of all time. On the dreamy “Spider’s Curse,” too, the band writes a song about Peter Parker that’s better than anything Bono and The Edge came up with for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.