Atlanta’s Black Lips have never been known for their subtlety (anyone who has been to a live show could attest to this), so when the quartet hired fancy pop musician/producer Mark Ronson to work with them on their latest, Mountain Arabia [Vice Records], it’s a sure bet that it’ll be yet another hook to catch new fans and solidify the diehards.
What inspired Black Lips to work with Ronson? Amy Winehouses’ Ronson-produced Back to Black. “When that came out, we thought, for mainstream pop, this has a cool retro sensibility that we appreciate,” [Cole] Alexander [said in a recent interview]. “We’re not purists who just want to sound old, but there are certain recording techniques that were used a long time ago that sound really good, and can be used in today’s context. We felt he understood that.” More polished instrument-wise and diverse (saxophone, anyone?) perhaps, Mountain Arabia is still full of plenty of the band’s usual disheveled grittiness. Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley’s vocals drawl and shout pop culture puzzles to either decode or go up in a brain-melting retro haze.