I respect the fuck out of the Black Lips “we could give a fuck” attitude towards what else is happening in music or has happened since the Sonics. Their commitment to those principles as their popularity and influence grows wider is absolutely humbling because I’m sure they know that as close as they get to that brass ring, they’ll never be able to grab it playing straight-up Garage Rock. Well not unless they make a White Stripes type of sound shift. But they really don’t seem to give a shit about anything besides making Rock ‘N Roll and I appreciate that.
It should then come as no surprise then that on 200 Million Thousand that the Black Lips really don’t venture much from what they did Good Bad Not Evil, or really any of the 4 albums before that. 200 Million Thousand does have a more genuine Nuggets era sound in the recording quality, with the constant tape hiss running throughout the album. The mix on the vocals has them just distant enough to not only play up the retro effect, but also goes a long way in giving the album a slightly more sinister tone than usual. Hell I’m sure if you played this to anyone not up on the Black Lips they’d think this was recorded in the 60s, that is unless they catch some very obvious modern allusions and references scattered through out the lyrics.
But with that said, none of those nuances create enough of a change to tie these songs to this particular album. They could have all just as easily fit anywhere else in the Black Lips catalog. That’s really my main gripe with this album which I like, I really do… especially tracks like “Big Baby Jesus of Today”, “Old Man” or the subtly Hip Hop infused “Drop I Hold”. But even on the strength of those tracks and nothing about 200 Million Thousand makes me want to hear it anymore or less than anything else they’ve done.
Ultimately how much you like or how indifferent you are towards this album is going to depend on how you feel towards Garage Rock as a whole and how much new Garage Rock that sounds like old Garage Rock you need in your life. If this is going to be your first Black Lips release, it or Good Bad Not Evil are great place to start. But in all likelihood they may also end up being the only album of theirs you may ever need to own.- My Pal the Crook