People call the Black Lips’ music “flower punk,” and that’s probably about the best short description of their sound anyone could possibly come up with. They have a gritty, lo-fi, 60’s rock flavor that recalls a laundry list of idols: the Kinks, the Animals, 13th Floor Elevators, the Hollies, the Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Velvet Underground, on top of which they add a twist of punk and psychedelia. More than their contemporaries, the Black Lips bring indie rock full circle, channeling the early pop and rock legends through a punk/indie approach that's simultaneously revivalist and unmistakably original.
The Atlanta-based quartet formed in 2000, when its original members were still in high school, and now has five albums under its belt and a healthy underground following. On Good Bad Not Evil, their fourth studio album, the Lips continue to do what they do best: raw, dirty, revivalist garage rock. Guitarist Cole Alexander said himself that the new album was “really inspired by ourselves, especially our first two albums” in an interview with newsletter.co.uk. Good Bad Not Evil is in fact a little more diverse than the first two though, offering everything from the country track “How Do You Tell a Child That Someone Has Died” to the doo wop inspired “Bad Kids” and the surf rock single “O Katrina!” There are certainly plenty of classic Lips songs here too, most notably the slow crunchy strutter “Veni Vidi Vici” (which Diplo just chose to remix) and the twangy “Cold Hands.”
Good Bad Not Evil also finds the Lips making a foray into more serious subject matter with the gentler “Transcendental Light,” about guitarist Ian St. Pe’s discovery of his mother’s body, “O Katrina!,” about the New Orleans hurricane, and “How Do You Tell a Child That Someone Has Died,” inspired by the tragic death of original member Ben Eberbaugh. But don’t worry, the Lips certainly have not lost the one quality that stands out most: their massive energy, and the constant sensation that they enjoy making and playing their music… and damned if the feeling's not contagious.