On its own terms, the Black Lips’ seventh album succeeds utterly—for the simple reason that the Atlanta quartet have no real interest in doing anything other than making the same album they’ve already made six times.
This is not as easy as it might sound: If you asked U2, or Oasis, or Snoop Dogg, or the Spice Girls to exactly remake their debut albums in terms of tone and quality, but with different songs, they would each turn in a work of indescribable bilge.
The Lips, however, manage to keep pumping out tuneful garage punk of solid quality without the faintest sign of exhaustion. Possibly their notoriously dissolute stage practices (breaking things, stealing things, weeing on things, fighting things) have somehow conspired to help them keep that young man’s edge. Probably it’s just all the drugs.
In any case, Underneath the Rainbow has a certain amount of diversity to it: Opener "Drive-By Buddy" shows of the band’s titanic cojones by simply being the Stones’ "The Last Time"; "Smiling" is like a punked-up out-take from the Grease soundtrack; "Boys in the Wood" slouches about with boozed up, bluesed up menace; "Dandelion" explodes with the type of effortless fuzzbomb energy peers like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club wish they could still muster.
If you were told this was the debut album from some long lost Detroit band from the ’60s, you would freak out. Knowing it’s just the latest from the Black Lips is undeniably less exciting. But they’re the kings of what they do, grumpily basking in their own eternal summer.