The Black Lips 200 Million Thousand Vice Records

I shaved my beard into a mustache yesterday. It was just a goof - not some special arrangement in honor of the oft-mustacchioed men of the Black Lips, whose latest effort I just happen to be reviewing this week. Nonetheless, it feels right to rock this particular brand of facial hair while scrawling down thoughts about Atlanta's notorious "flower punks" and their new album, 200 Million Thousand.

First, a note about fuzz: Cole Alexander and crew have applied it to this record as readily as they brandish it on their upper lips. Their last outing, Good Bad Not Evil, felt like a step toward an iTunes-approved middle ground, but they've retreated into their niche here, and it feels so good. 200 Million Thousand is as raw as anything they released on In the Red before Vice adopted them as the poster boys of raunchy rock excess and too-cool-to-care global hipsterism.

If there's any question this band still aligns with the skuzzbucket underground rockers at Terminal Boredom, Alexander's pained groans on tracks like "Take My Heart" and "Starting Over" sound startlingly similar to Jon Witzky's gurgling ruminations with El Jesus de Magico. Factor in constantly shifting fidelity and lots of dirge tempos, and you're left with a Black Lips album built for the Black Lips' old-school base.

The Black Lips 200 Million Thousand Vice Records

I shaved my beard into a mustache yesterday. It was just a goof not some special arrangement in honor of the oft-mustacchioed men of the Black Lips, whose latest effort I just happen to be reviewing this week. Nonetheless, it feels right to rock this particular brand of facial hair while scrawling down thoughts about Atlanta's notorious "flower punks" and their new album, 200 Million Thousand.

First, a note about fuzz: Cole Alexander and crew have applied it to this record as readily as they brandish it on their upper lips. Their last outing, Good Bad Not Evil, felt like a step toward an iTunes-approved middle ground, but they've retreated into their niche here, and it feels so good. 200 Million Thousand is as raw as anything they released on In the Red before Vice adopted them as the poster boys of raunchy rock excess and too-cool-to-care global hipsterism.

If there's any question this band still aligns with the skuzzbucket underground rockers at Terminal Boredom, Alexander's pained groans on tracks like "Take My Heart" and "Starting Over" sound startlingly similar to Jon Witzky's gurgling ruminations with El Jesus de Magico. Factor in constantly shifting fidelity and lots of dirge tempos, and you're left with a Black Lips album built for the Black Lips' old-school base.

That's not to say that these guys are out to please anybody but themselves. But they certainly have happened upon a sound that spurns any overt commercial advances in favor of the comfort zone they grew up in. Presumably, some of those old-school fans dismissed the band as their hype quotient increased over the past couple years. (Personally, I wasn't too fond of their last Columbus appearance, but then again The Basement is NOT the right place for their booze/spit/urine-soaked live shows.)

They ought to give this record a chance, though, as it maintains the gritty aesthetic and brilliantly simple rock songwriting that made this band a cult favorite in the first place. It's a little heavy on the slow, woozy numbers, but basically, it satisfies my thirst for the Black Lips in a way Good Bad Not Evil couldn't quite manage. Fans of that release might not like the dingy, lo-fi feel this album exudes, but they ought to be swayed by the likes of "Short Fuse" and "Again and Again," both among the Lips' best beach-party rockers.

I'm probably overblowing the differences between this album and its predecessor. It's just that this record makes me happy in a way I thought the Black Lips couldn't do anymore, so even if it doesn't sound all that different from their recent exploits, it feels like they've rediscovered themselves. If bodily fluids fly next time they come through town, all will be well with the world once more.