Gone are the days when every Black Lips show would feature an exposed penis and one of the band-members puking on another -- now that only happens every other night. But the reason for fewer antics these days is that after 12 years of legendary moments that already exist in the pantheon of epic rock and roll scripture‚ the Black Lips have become really‚ really‚ fucking good. Arabia Mountain‚ the Atlanta‚ Georgians' third record for Vice Records‚ completes a succession of tightening form for the band‚ and finds their garage-punk‚ rock-smash sound unified into a timeless album that lies somewhere between The Modern Lovers and Iggy & The Stooges' Raw Power.
16 tracks deep and without a moment of drag‚ sometimes it's easy to tell these were the guys who got bored quickly in high school. "Family Tree" kicks in loud with a tromping ode to the darker side of one's roots‚ and then the band never looks back. An eerie motion of 60's mod-punk is the backbone for half the tunes‚ all highlighted by lyrics both hilarious and poignant. Take the perfect description of vinyl discovery from "Mad Dog": "Drop the needle/ You'll discover/ Judas Priest and/ Kill your mother." And while at times the urge to categorize their sound will lead you to Lou Reed or Question Mark & the Mysterians‚ the band responds consistently with cuts that are both amazing and seemingly familiar only in unto themselves.
"Spidey's Curse" is the 2nd best song ever written about Spider-Man‚ but the best song to not give a fuck about it. "Don't Mess Up My Baby" is either written from the perspective of a protective father or a worried ex-boyfriend‚ but its revamped Bo Diddley beat creates the perfect space for the now-classic Black Lips lyrical imagery: "You huffed all my Glade/Drank my Kool-Aid/When your jug was dry/You ate my Captain Crunch/Chased the dragon and went to hide." "Time" is the true classic though‚ and for any fan of rock and roll it's the kind of track that feels like it's already been part of your DNA for a while -- the Mexican down-riff makes it sound like a lost Richie Valens track. The half-time descending groove of the close "You Keep On Running" finds a sudden but logical jump to a Jack Whitish blues‚ and inspiration that these guys are only now discovering what they are really capable of. On Arabia Mountain‚ the Black Lips have slightly evolved from the band your mother warned you about‚ to the band your Dad could have lost his virginity to‚ but either way they're still the baddest kids you'd ever want to be friends with.