Through some combination of lack of inhibition, well-disguised genius, complete incompetence and dumb luck, the Black Lips' first album managed to create a sound that convincingly aped Nuggets-style '60s garage while retaining a uniquely twisted postmodern sensibility. At the time, their shows were a frenzy of comic violence, nudity and incomprehensible noise. Since then, however, near-constant touring has sharpened their playing considerably, and their songwriting has doubled in sophistication almost despite itself. Recent release Good Bad Not Evil is more intelligible and accessible than any other in their catalog; this may not be a point in their favor by everyone's estimation, but it gives their music more depth and staying power than it's ever had, largely due to their lyrics. "How Do You Tell a Child," is a hokey yet moving country waltz that explains death in the perfectly corny line, "He's on God's clock now, not yours and mine." Meanwhile, "Bad Kids" is jammed with punchy couplets celebrating low-class existence: "Toilet paper in your yard, six Fs on my report card." The record's best song is "Oh, Katrina," a New Orleans lament stripped down to just a chorus. It degenerates into a nearly wordless howl of grief and joy, delivering the pure in-the-moment release that is the Black Lips' reason for existence.
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