Album Review: The Flaming Lips

Richard Osmond 22 October 2009

The Flaming Lips (Warner Bros.) – Embryonic

If much of The Flaming Lips’ last album saw their finely-honed pop sound sink into an unchallenging, autumnal reverie, then this is the sound of the band shedding those golden leaves to reveal a bleak, wiry skeleton.

Embryonic is a hectic psych-out of a double-album, the kind of brutally acidic and spookily distorted record that the Lips haven’t made since In a Priest Driven Ambulance.

There seems to be a trend among critics to hail this renewed indulgence in guitar-screeching, fan-alienating, psychedelia as a return to form, a step back from the precipice of commercialism on which the last album teetered so dangerously.

However, people have forgotten, in their belief that noisier guitars mean greater credibility, that it was The Soft Bulletin’s bold step towards the mainstream that earned this band most of their indie hero-worship.Before The Flaming Lips discovered pop, they were seen as a bit of a joke.

This is all starting to sound too negative. The new (old) sound has much to offer.

Steven’s much-missed Godzilla-stomp drum sound is back on jams like the poundingly brilliant Worm Mountain.The band sounds more live and imminent and together than ever before.

Don’t get me wrong – this album rocks the house.I’m just wary of equating punkish anarchy with inherent quality.

It took just as much bravery to create the pulsating glow of alien-Americana that made up the majority of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, and this latest release doesn’t deserve more love just because it shouts louder.

Richard Osmond