The Black Lips/The King Khan & BBQ Show

Christmas in Baghdad b/w "Plump Righteous"

The Black Lips' recent maturity as songwriters is undeniable. Say what you will about a song like "Oh Katrina!" The verbiage is minimal, but it sure does say an awful lot. "Christmas in Baghdad" is the group's most politically overt song since "Katrina," and the depth of depression at work in the song transcends the cutesy dirge of the holiday season. It's a modest and miserable number that pays homage to wartime homesickness.

Khan & BBQ's "Plump Righteous" B-side is an upbeat instrumental that counterweighs the heaviness with a genuinely festive tone. Both songs rise above the banality of the shopping mall soundtrack, and even if most Christmas music makes your skin crawl, this 7-incher will get you in the spirit by balancing infinite sadness with holly-jolly toe-tapping. 5 stars