The Black Lips’ 2014 album, Under the Rainbow, which was produced by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, didn’t deliver the perhaps expected commercial breakthrough. Thus the cult Atlantans’ ninth studio album sees them reverting to the sound established when they were trashy garage rockers who once caused outrage in India with their onstage nudity. Produced by Sean Lennon – it features backing vocals from his mother, Yoko Ono, but unfortunately they are inaudible – Satan’s Graffiti is more Captain Beefheart than the Beatles. However, a scuzzy cover of It Won’t Be Long takes the Fab Four’s 1963 sound on a trip into the wasted, psychedelic underground. Elsewhere, big riffs and a honking saxophone pile into swampy blues, moonshine country, rollicking rockabilly, glam racket and sometimes baffling cacophonies – but whenever things get too chaotic, their sharp songwriting pulls them back from the brink. Can’t Hold On and Wayne are gloriously catchy, and Crystal Night is a truly sweet ballad, despite the recorded presence of what sounds like a chipmunk on helium.
Dave Simpson is a Guardian music critic and author