When a happily sloppy lo-fi band like Atlanta flower-punks Black Lips hook up with a big-name producer like Mark Ronson, it usually goes one of two ways. Either cleaning up the sound reveals even better songwriting than we hoped they had in them, or the studio gloss waters down all the raw, fiery energy that made them great. In the case of Arabia Mountain, the results lie somewhere between those two extremes.
The good news is that Ronson didn't ruin what's great about Black Lips. They're still bratty and noisy, and there's still something enjoyably unhinged about their punked-up take on 60s rock. However, while we can hear what they're doing a bit more clearly, the missing layer of fuzz reveals nothing terribly exciting. There are some great garage rock tunes, but too much filler to make for a great album. Maybe they should have trimmed a few of the 16 songs for a shorter but stronger work.
Top track: Time