Black Lips

Let It Bloom

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While most bands get tighter and "more professional" with the passage of time, Black Lips have opted to follow another path, and the Atlanta foursome dig deeper into the well of murky aural power on their third album, Let It Bloom. While garage rock at its most blessedly crude remains the band's obvious reference point, guitarists Ian St. Pe and Cole Alexander (aka Old King Cole Younger) take their songs through enough twists and turns that no one is going to mistake them for either the White Stripes or the Chesterfield Kings, and the low-flying shards of guitar noise and echoing textures call up shades of the Fall, the Godz, the Cramps, the Witches, the early Velvet Underground (think Cleveland 1966, not the Banana album), and a few dozen other bands who enjoy playing around in the dark matter rather than burning out in the sunshine. And while Black Lips don't sound much more "accomplished" than they did on their 2002 debut, they've gotten much better at working their magic in the studio, and Let It Bloom is their strongest effort to date, from the minor-chord stomp of "Punk Slime" and the sinister beachside romance of "Dirty Hands" to the French-accented dirge of "Hippie, Hippie, Hoorah" and the descent into the maelstrom of "She's Gone." Mike McHugh's recording sorts out the good noise from the bad noise with just the right balance, and the result is an album that drips with just the right kind of bad karma. Let It Bloom will creep out your neighbors and you can dance to it, and can you ask for more than that?

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