Musical maturity brings its own set of challenges, and avoiding the temptation to settle into a familiar sound is perhaps top of the list. Having hit their 10th studio album, The Black Lips have got over their hurdle boldly and gracefully, challenging their audience in the process: Apocalypse Love is an exercise in the unexpected, which couples unusual sounds – from a theremin to a hearty brass section – with an out-of-left-field production and a whole array of peculiar lyrics.
New listeners might have an easier time with this record than old lovers of the band: if you were expecting the country-heavy atmosphere of Black Lips’ beginnings, Apocalypse Love may leave you feeling somewhat out of balance. Not that the country/bluegrass vibe is completely gone: where it resurfaces, however, it has become infused with something dreamy and vaguely hallucinatory. Check out “Tongue Tied” – one of the most intriguing tracks on the record – for an excellent example of this.
Elsewhere the mood of the record dabbles with psychedelia and post-punk, a nostalgic take on disco which evokes an image of East Germany as we perhaps only imagined it to be (stand-out single “No Rave” is a perfect instance on the latter) and some experimental deviations which may not have a name yet. A vague sense of disconnection might perhaps be the only flaw in a record that is otherwise to be praised for its daring and its inventiveness, one of the most intriguing listens of 2022.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK LIPS – APOCALYPSE LOVE