The Flaming Lips, Still At Large

By: Jack Rowe
By: Jack Rowe

The Flaming Lips. Cult classic. The Monty Python and the Holy Grail of music. Around since 1985, putting them in the ranks of the Red Hot Chili Peppers – but from Mars. Most would categorize almost every bit of the Lips’ stuff as in the genre of “noise.” On the contrary! What this ever-changing group has at its nucleus is pure, provocative originality. One would be too bold to brazenly position absolutely any other band in the realm of these fantastical fellows. I blench at the thought! Lest I be reprimanded by those more-forward-thinkers of the music scene! The creative juices flowing through the veins of these modern mystics must include a smidgeon of LSD.

This band assaults their listeners with spacey soundscapes that remind me of 2001: A Space Odyssey in some primitive way. At other times, they touch the heart with the likes of “Mr. Ambulance Driver” from their 2006 release At War with the Mystics. This song evokes a sensitivity and humanity at the opposite end of a Pink Floyd-esque spectrum when compared to Ebryonic of 2009 – the latter being what I would file into the “noise” category. Their best album, in my humble opinion, is Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and includes masterpieces such as the namesake of the album “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt.1,” “Fight Test,” “In the Morning of the Magicians” (my all-time fave Lips tune) and the more recognizable “Do You Realize??” Other songs of theirs are utterly absurd like “She Don’t Use Jelly” – perhaps the goofy jam that initiated their cult following. Then you have the establishment anthem “The W.A.N.D.” These Lips are all over the place.

Their newest album, The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, features an appropriately eclectic collection of “fwends” including Bon Iver, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Yoko Ono, Neon Indian, Erykah Badu, Ke$ha (apparently a dear friend of Mr. Coyne), along with other bands I have heard of for the first time on this record. You could legitimately brag about your diverse musical taste if this was the only album you had ever enjoyed. This album is a return to their psychotically creative roots in an unprecedented way, in true Flaming Lips fashion.

I’ve been fantasizing about attending one of their shows before this musical think-tank runs out of gas but they’ve only been playing their interpretative cover of Pink Floyd’s classic Dark Side of the Moon for quite awhile now. I have heard this performance is an honorable version of one of our time’s greatest albums but is too much to ask to see some of their originals performed live? That was a rhetorical question. It is not too much to ask and I hope they attend to fans’ needs accordingly. Maybe one of us will be lucky enough to have Wayne roll over us in his famous man-sized hamster ball!

They have distributed their music encased in colorful vinyl, gummy skulls, and sweet edible fetuses. What more can you ask for from a band? That was a rhetorical question. You can’t. If you haven’t given in to your carnal desires yet, let The Flaming Lips GIVE YOU A CHANCE.

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