Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CD Review: The Flaming Lips' Embryonic

Published 10.27.09

The Deal: Latest studio album from Oklahoma group is more than an hour of music via 18 tracks.
The Good: From the opening notes of The Flaming Lips latest album, you can instantly tell it's going to be different from what you've heard before. The band had gone a bit commercial – literally – on its last disc, At War with the Mystics, but the 18 tracks offered here are on the other side of the spectrum. "Evil" is a slow, depressing song that recalled images of Pink Floyd – interesting side note that the band's next planned album is a complete cover ofDark Side of the Moon. "Your Bats" sounds like it borrowed a drum beat/bass line from Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 was 9." "The Ego's Last Stand" speeds things back up, but it's hard to imagine mountains of confetti shooting out to it during a live show. Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs lends her vocal – and animal-noise-making skills – to the album.
The Bad: It's not one of those albums you can really throw on, enjoy, sing along easily and put on for the good vibes. Look at it as the "thinking man's" Lips album. You really need to spend some quality time with this one to let it sink in to every pore. There are also moments when it sounds unfinished or completely raw in the editing process. You can even hear Karen O asking, "Do you need me to do it again?" at the end of "I Can be a Frog." You can hear singer Wayne Coyne clear his throat, clearly, on "If" – a song that is mostly falsetto and not one of my favorites.
The Verdict: For me, the verdict is still out, but I don't think it's one of their best by a long shot. I'm curious to see how it all comes across during the live show. At times, the album plays like a series of jam sessions that their better ideas might come from. Instead of letting those ideas germinate and develop, they just threw them down on plastic and made them available for fans.

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