Breathing but just barely
The Black Lips have always chained themselves to Let It Bloom, a wave of unleashed creativity that the band, and their fans, are still riding today. And rightly so – it’s a reminder of what they’re capable of, a solution for regained hope – and while it’s still breathing, it’s keeping the band alive. Sing In A World That’s Falling Apart has captured, in kind of essence, the excitement we felt on Let It Bloom – it’s still a far cry from it, but the parts that aren’t, really and truly aren’t.
The Black Lips have always had a distinctive way of elevating rock and country to something that breaks the hum-drum synonyms of the genres like they did so well on Let It Bloom, and a lot of it comes from their very love of those genres. Their sound really does appreciate the cowboys of the piano, the corny harmonicas, the campfire vocals, Sing In A World That’s Falling Apart especially so. It’s a style that has somewhat faded in recent times due to a lack of commercial will, yet the Black Lips bring it back with unashamed force, such that a genuine passion can be mistaken for outdated taste. Those that see it for what it is will appreciate it, but it really does take an objective approach, and I’ll be the first to vouch for that.
“Rumbler” is maybe the epitome of that passion, their sing-along for a world that’s supposedly crumbling. The track is a likable mix that speaks to the best qualities of the band’s now veteran experience, but the social concern doesn’t quite cut it. Some bands just aren’t made to be taken as seriously as others, and while it may seem complicit to ignore their platform, the music should always come first.
It’s not happening on this record, and it comes down to a lack of diversity, besides the backseat empathy. Halfway through and you’re bored, thinking of everything but the music and how it makes you feel. You’ll still find the soaring grace of Let It Bloom – the swooning guitars on “Gentleman,” the almost underproduced intimacy of “Get It On Time,” and maybe even the my-Sharona-shredding on “Odelia” unless it’s your cause for concern. These moments are the things we hold on to, but they’re not overriding enough to view the entire record in the same light. It’s sectionalized and unimaginative, leaving little to be desired in the way of inspiration.
Give it a go and don’t lose hope, because you’ll always have Let It Bloom to fall back on – that’s what the Black Lips probably think when they return to the studio. They’ve had the pleasure of producing with Mark Ronson and Patrick Carney, they’ve claimed their steak, and if free-willed fun is all they’re after then so be it, but the victories of the past will only bloom for so long until they too will stop breathing.