With the amount of albums that are released each year, timelessness is a quality that is rarely found in much of today's music. If in fact you're lucky enough to stumble across such a record? Well, it's generally a wonderful thing. Which is what makes the Black Lips' latest album, 200 Million Thousand (Vice Records), so refreshing. Timeless, it seems, is something these boys had time to focus on when they wrote and recorded it.
Upon first listen to opening track, "Take My Heart", long time followers of the band will hear a familiar kind of grittiness. Once again, the Black Lips are escorting their audience back to an era in time that preceded impeccable production. From start to finish, 200 Million Thousand hisses and spits, sounding something like a recording captured in one of the neighbors' garage. If it actually was, you can bet the neighbors put in a couple noise complaints with the Atlanta police.
Of course, it is that unpolished edge that has always given the Black Lips their "charm". In this regard, the careless cluster of rock that inhabits 200 Million Thousand rings true as ever. On a musical level, the band isn't leaping head first into the murky waters of new and unknown sounds or instrumentation. The closest they come to something different is "The Drop I Hold"; an odd, kind of grunge rap. Instead, Black Lips choose to swim comfortably in the same sea of sounds they have known most of their career. Gritty guitars, grungy bass and down and dirty drums provide most, if not all, of the albums instrumentation on the album. Adding to the carefree, "flower punk" feel, Cole Alexander - backed by the entire band - yelps and gasps behind the mic; vocals that are loud, raspy, and even a tad sloppier than previous efforts.
In short, 200 Million Thousand fails to take Black Lips fans anywhere they haven't been before. But, as the old saying goes; "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Metaphorically, the album is something like an old, stinky rag that is just too hard to let go for fear of losing the memories it holds. It's a little on the gross side, sure. But this is one of those albums that, most likely, will never really get old. Think the band named the album 200 Million Thousand because it's their prediction as to how many times you are going to want to listen to it? Probably not. But I'm predicting you come close. - Greg Lozoff