Good Bad Not Evil
(09.2007, Vice Records)
They always say that you only get one chance to make a first impression. I’m not quite sure who they are that always say that, but it seems true enough. And so it goes with albums. For some reason the first song from Black Lips’ new album that I listened to was the third track, "Step Right Up." My first thought was that they want to be The Velvet Underground. Since that inauspicious beginning I have hardly been able to extract the Lou Reed from my impressions of Good Bad Not Evil. And when I finally do, it’s only to replace the direct lineage of Black Lips songs from one historic band to another. "O Katrina!" is a band trying to be the Animals. "It Feels All Right" is the B-52’s. "How Do You Tell A Child That Someone Has Died" was meant to be on the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack.
In truth, I really like this album, and more so with each listen. However, Black Lips lack an identity of their own that would add credence and power to their catchy, bluesy songs. In fact the few songs that don’t reflect a direct influence from some other band are the weakest ones of the bunch, and to their credit, Black Lips limit those numbers to a curious few. Whether my perceptions of direct influences are accurate or not, Black Lips’ Good Bad Not Evil, is an album that buoys itself up with the strengths of past bands, and not necessarily to its detriment. Their songs don’t seem out of place, or dated, and their energy and straightforward presentation adds to the bands character. This is not an innovative band, nor an album of far reaching influence, but it is one that will appease any inclination to rock, and encourage you to nod your head as vigorously as your uppity hipster attitude will allow.