Song Reviews

5 Songs by The Black Lips Better than “Odelia” (Their New Song)

Alright. So Black Lips are back with a new song called “Odelia”. And after a few listens, I’m not the biggest fan. It has a country swagger to it, which in itself fits Black Lips’ traditional sound, but simply lacks the aggression and rawness and grime found in many of their greats.

Writes Pitchfork:

“What Black Lips do so well is tease the horror out of wholesomeness and recast golden-age rock’n’roll in a strange, discomforting light”

I agree with the statement, overall, but I don’t think it quite applies to “Odelia”. It just lacks … something: Passion. Fervor. All that other crap Black Lips tend to throw into their music. It’s not bad, it’s just lacking.

So I devised an idea: let’s see if I can find 5 songs in my collection by Black Lips for you to listen to and enjoy more than “Odelia”.

black lips satan's graffiti or god's art

“Can’t Hold On” off Satan’s Graffiti Or God’s Art?

Two years ago, Black Lips gave us Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? I immediately fell in love with “Can’t Hold On”. There’s a desperation here that suits their style of rock perfectly.

It’s a depressing slacker anthem, ready to sneer at you with a big ol’ fuck you from a dingy street corner.

This vision, along with their self-described “flower punk” style, is conveyed effortlessly in their video for “Can’t Hold On”. It’s brilliant!

“In My Mind There’s a Dream” off Satan’s Graffiti Or God’s Art?

In his 2009 FensePost review of 200 Million Thousand, The Nice Asswhole wrote:

I have no problem making making the solid statement that Black Lips are the only band that can play music like Black Lips.

You’ll have to read the review for a better understanding of that somewhat “duh” opening statement, but it’s true. Describing the music of Black Lips is often like trying to describe the music–with specific modern day references–of Thee Oh Sees.

It’s damn year impossible. And that originality does not come easy.

The first time I heard “In My Mind There’s a Dream”, two clashing yet cohesive thoughts swirled through my head. What the fuck did I just listen to? came first, followed by Holy shit, that was awesome!

“I Saw A Ghost” off Good Bad Not Evil

Black Lips first came onto my radar in 2007 with the release of Good Bad Not Evil. There was such hype around that album that it was hard to turn anywhere in the world of indie music without seeing or hearing about it.

Everyone was touting “O Katrina!” I, on the other hand, immediately gravitated toward songs like album opener “I Saw A Ghost”

Like others on this list, the vocals have a Southern-tinged, gritty punk undertone that carry the song from good to great. They complement the laid back swagger perfectly. Take a listen:

“Navajo” off Good Bad Not Evil

Fuck being PC. This song follows others in history to draw influence from and reference more traditional Native American culture, joining the ranks of “Kaw Liga” by Hank Williams, several by Davie Allan and the Arrows, and a whole bunch of others.

Many aren’t necessarily the most sensitive to that culture. But in “Navajo” it fits Black Lips carefree, don’t-give-a-fuck nature.

And it’s a love song…kinda. It’s a difficult one as it definitely dives into offensive territory that should not be overlooked. Damn is it catchy, though!

black lips arabia mountain vinyl

“Family Tree” off Arabia Mountain

“Family Tree” is the album opener on their 2011 LP Arabia Mountain. Horror out of wholesomeness sounds about right here. In their official video for the song, something as gold standard and pedestal-worthy as a family tree is morphed and tarnished with disgusting bodily fluids from blood to spit, saliva and nudity.

I’m a germaphobe, but I freakin’ love it! Of course, after watching it, I feel compelled to wash my hands.

No. Wash my hands is too tame. I need to scrub myself down and take a freakin’ shower.

Circling Back to “Odelia”

Early on it seemed like I was trashing Black Lips. Maybe a little, as “Odelia” just didn’t entrance me like Black Lips have in the past.

But it’s not my intent.

Their Wikipedia page talks about their live shows, in particular shows early in Black Lips career:

The Black Lips are noted for provocative theatrics – including vomiting (Cole’s medical condition), urination, nudity, electric R.C. car races, fireworks, a chicken, flaming guitars and other un-predictable antics.

black lips sub pop singles club

I struggle to find the lineage between “Odelia” and these theatrics, whereas they are flaunted in the five songs above. In comparison, the new song is just … well … too tame.

Black Lips’ new album comes out early next year, and I have hopes that they rough things up a bit on it. I hope there are some catchy powerhouses like the five I outlined above. That they give us some of these antics and theatrics they are known for.

Otherwise I probably won’t be adding it to my collection.

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