Black Lips: “Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?” Album Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music:

After three years of moderate downtime, Atlanta’s Black Lips are back… and they’ve brought a true epic of an album with them. Structured as a rock-opera similar to Tommy and The Wall With a flow that feel more like a concept album, Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? dives deep into territory that will be appreciated by both long time fans of the group as well as die hard psychedelic rock fans. This album really has it all: intense garage rock thrashes, schmaltzy country rock, and the usual standard of songwriting that has become expected from the band. Through it all, there remains a snarling sense of splintering attitude and unrefined rebellion.

Like their previous album Underneath The Rainbow, the new album is produced by a top-name, but it’s not another musical A-lister like Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. This ticket me, the Lips have the one and only Sean Lennon behind the boards – and that’s fitting seeing as the album has a sort of freewheeling 60’s quality to it similar to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Abbey Road. The teeth-clenching “We Know” could almost be looked at as the answer to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”.

There certainly are some musical anomalies on the album though; the album’s first interlude “Got Me All Alone” features a saxophone that sounds like it was sampled right out of an old film noir. Another interlude, “E’lektric Spider Webz” sounds like an outtake from one of Bradford Cox’s Atlas Sound records. One of the most obviously familiar albeit musically interesting parts of the record comes towards the end when the band covers the early Beatles staple “It Won’t Be Long”, containing guitars and bass that give it more of a Stones vibe than one that isn’t related to the former band. Don’t be fooled, though; the next track quickly shifts over to the baroque arraignment of glimmering guitars that sound like harpsichords on the waltz-time ballad “Loser’s Lament”.

While it may not live up to the standards of the band’s critical and commercial breakthrough, 2007’s Good Bad Not Evil, the songs that are presented on Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? seem like the next step in a logical progression for the Black Lips. After this record, it seems like this band has been around long enough to know exercise good taste without making a self-righteous cacophony of a concept album.