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coverpic coverpic flag US - Oklahoma - Full Moon 196 - 08/31/12

The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends
Warner / Lovely Sorts of Death / Bella Union

I used to love The Flaming Lips. Ten years on, I'm finding it harder and harder to muster any enthusiasm. The rot set in with At War With The Mystics, then when I saw them live last year and Wayne was desperately appealing to the audience to get into their curtailed set at Harvest Festival, the whole spectacle just seemed sad. Don't get me wrong - Flaming Lips shows are really great if you're in the mood for animal dancers, confetti, flashing lights, etc. But once you've seen them do the same stuff for a few gigs and they still haven't created any new songs that rival The Soft Bulletin, it's time to move on.

This new collection of collaborations with artists as diverse as Ke$ha, Bon Iver and Erykah Badu really isn't helping matters. About 80% of it is utter drivel, with absolutely no coherence, memorable melodies or engaging vocal performances. Admittedly, I have no particular fondness for any of the collaborators on this collection, so I was behind from the start. And the few reviews I've read of this so far did little to convince me that it's worth spending much time with.

The only song that pricked up my ears when I saw them play at Harvest was "Is David Bowie Dying?", featuring Neon Indian. That song's here and is pretty good. The collaboration with Erykah Badu that follows, "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face", is pretty good too. Those two cuts aside, I can't stand to revisit any of the other tracks. There are aggressively trebly guitars, self-consciously 'wacky' lyrics about drugs and mental illness, overdriven drums - you know the drill. The Flaming Lips circa 2012 isn't the inspiring experience it used to be...

The saddest thing is that Wayne and Co. are talented chaps and they can do so much better than this. I'm not asking for Soft Bulletin 2 - I just want them to return to making music that sounds like it matters to them, not just knocked out for the sake of novelty value.

Copyright © 2012 Tim Clarke e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Flaming Lips articles/reviews: Stubb's, Austin, TX, August 1st, 1998, The Terror, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.

© 2012 Luna Kafé