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  Black Lipstick  
  Peek-a-boo Records  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

In the spring of every year, lots of bands release albums. Every week, we here at Evil Sponge are inundated with new singles, EPs, and full lengths that must be listened to and digested, if you will. With all of that new music coming in, it's perhaps not surprising that occasionally things get lost in the shuffle.

In my case, Sincerely, Black Lipstick, the second full length release by (at the time) Austin-based Black Lipstick has been sitting in my CD player since March. I've listened to it numerous times, and often began writing about it. But, then something new would show up and grab my attention, and Black Lipstick would fall back to the bottom of the pile, even as I continued to listen to and enjoy the album.

So, finally, I've forced myself to write about an album which brings me great joy, and which shows a growth and maturation in Black Lipstick's music. For instance, the album begins with B.O.B. F.O.S.S.E., which has the minimal rhythmic drumming, which characterizes the Black Lipstick sound. With the somewhat foreboding guitars in the background, the song builds up like a successor to Texas Women, a highlight off Converted Thieves, the previous Black Lipstick release. However, instead of the vocal interplay between guitarists Philip Niemeyer and Travis Higdon, this time around, the vocals run between Niemeyer and drummer Elizabeth Nottingham. If anything, this change harkens back to the days of Niemeyer and Higdon's previous band, The Kiss Offs, albeit in a less frenetic sense.

From there, the band moves on to No Mercy, which is a fairly typical Black Lipstick song. It has nice alternating, distorted guitars which are propelled by some fast drumming and a baseline that holds everything together. Over this conglomeration, male vocals sing/speak rather humorous lyrics. For me, the sound is a great sound, which is easily recognizable. However, I want to point out that the actual recording of Sincerely, Black Lipstick is more playful, in a mono sense, than their previous records. By this, it seems like the band is experimenting more with layering of the different instruments and individual effects than they had previously. And this change is particularly noticeable on No Mercy.

After that, Black Lipstick goes on a lengthy tour de force with the almost eight minute Grandma Airplane, which is faster and focuses more on Steve Garcia's bassline than the previous two songs. Although this song has the signature elemens of Black Lipstick, it features a new element. At a certain point, the song builds to an extended instrumental release that culminates in some very pretty and light guitar work, before it fades into the distance. This newfound focus on the instrumental aspects of their songs reminds me a bit of their label mates The Octopus Project. Like The Octopus Project, Black Lipstick knows how to take what is essentially a straight forward music riff and then adds and expands upon it, so that the music can sustain itself without vocals for several minutes at a time.

After that extended musical break, Throw Some Money At It features catchy guitar work that sounds vaguely like a combination of very old U2 and the more modern Interpol. In particular, this sound comes together when the men chant the chorus of "Throw some money at it" while Steve Garcia's bassline echoes lowly in the background.

But the true highlight of the album comes with (yes, the title of the song is the three littel dots, gramatically called an eilipsis) In this one, the band relies very heavily on its low end, over which the higher-pitched vocals stand out more dramatically. It's shorter than most of the tracks on the album, and seems vaguely melancholy. But I really love the bassline on this particular song, especially as it contrasts against what appears to be keyboards. is one of those really catchy songs that you want to listen to again and again, because it just won't leave your head.

After that, you might expect the rest of the album to be something of a letdown. This is, however, not the case. Although the rest of the songs continue in the same vein as the earlier tracks, each song has its own strength. For instance, Viva Max has a sense of menace in its chord structure that reminds me a bit of Atlanta band The Close. In contrast, The Bad Catholic seems more mellow and doesn't have the crunchy sound that you normally associate with Black Lipstick. Finally, Shallow harkens back to the days of Converted Thieves with its straight up rock style and somewhat flat vocals.

Sincerely, Black Lipstick ends with another drawn out song, All Night Long Forever. Musically, it goes back to the reverby, chorused guitars backed by drumming that is particularly snare and tom heavy. Vocally, the chorus is lower and seems vaguely discordant and threatening. Most importantly, the song builds to an extended crescendo that gets louder and louder, until everything fades into a distant haze of feedback. And then the album is over.

Yet again, Black Lipstick has made a very fine release. All of the songs are good and interesting. And the musical complexity of the band seems to have increased from the days of Converted Thieves. But for me, the most interesting thing about Sincerely, Black Lipstick is how the band manages to combine easy, somewhat mellow vocals with a energetic and spirited instrumental style. It gives Black Lipstick a sound that isn't quite like anything else out there, no matter what others may write. And Sincerely, Black Lipstick seems like the fullest realization of their musical vision to date.

Related Links:

Black Lipstick's debut EP: The Four Kingdoms of Black Lipstick
Black Lipstick's first Album: Converted Thieves


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