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Black Lips - Sing...In A World That's Falling Apart (Album Review)

Monday, 03 February 2020 Written by Jacob Brookman

Black Lips’ ninth album finds the Atlanta, Georgia garage-rock rabble taking a left turn off the highway and plunging their pickup into deepest Americana. The result is ‘Sing...In A World That’s Falling Apart’, a record of joyous honky tonk anarchism; all bayou cookouts, live chickens, whisky hooch and whorin’. And, despite its satire, it's a record assembled with true love. 

There are some wonderful moments. Hooker Jon, the opener, is an instant singalong, with Cole Alexander—in full drag on the album’s cover—exclaiming, “He thinks I’m a hooker / she thinks I’m a Jon.’ It manages to skewer the perceptions of intolerance that have come to accompany music of the American South, and lays a playful groundwork for the stuff to come.

Similarly, Gentleman and Chainsaw are essentially country tunes that expand graciously, dappled with accomplished slide guitar and shuffling drums.

While Johnny Cash and the Band feel like they should be key influences for the LP, the most sonically similar act might actually be the work of fellow Americana part timers the Rolling Stones—particularly their 1972 road record ‘Exile on Main St.’.

Like that album, ‘Sing...In A World That’s Falling Apart’ acts as a bit of a genre safari, with country ballads (Locust), shuffles (Georgia), rockabilly (Angola Rodeo) and drinking dirges (Live Fast Die Slow) all accommodated. 

It’s a magnificent journey that demonstrates Alexander’s anarchic creativity alongside a stirring degree of musical capability on tracks that sound very natural. Like many musical comedians, it takes a high degree of playing skill and integrity to handle an instrument so sloppily and still make it work.

If there is a weakness, it is that fundamentally this album does nothing new, but it remains one of the strongest releases of the past six months, and of Black Lips’ hugely varied repertoire. It strikes at the heart of what rock music should be all about: hedonistic experimentation and musical risk taking. Like Thee Oh Sees or Fat White Family, this is a rock band in its truest sense. They feel like throwbacks when they shouldn’t be, really. See them live if you can.

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