The Flaming Lips make beautiful, confusing art with Embryonic

Flaming Lips Embryonic

The Flaming Lips are often called an “alternative” band by people like “Grammy award selection committees” and “moms who heard that one song they do,” but one look at any live show and one listen into their latest album, Embryonic, and you know the only way to classify this group is “art.”

The band has always done a lot of experimental music, but their most recent albums have still relied heavily upon singles driven by catchy riffs and spacey melodies (see:”Do You Realize,” “The W.A.N.D.,” et al). But their last true studio album was released in 2006 and a lot has happened to them since then! They played live shows basically everywhere, they had songs appear in a multitude of commercials, TV shows and movies and they pretty much took over their hometown of Oklahoma City. Their most recent recording was Christmas On Mars, last year’s score to frontman Wayne Coyne’s backyard movie project. The entirely instrumental work played a lot with electronic and rock experimentation, and on Embryonic these ideas are continued, mixed with their more traditional style. What does all this mean? It means The Flaming Lips just got all artistic on your ass!

The album is a solid 18-track, one-hour piece that swims back and forth through slower, ethereal songs and faster, disjointed rock songs. The standout part of it all is the freak show the guys clearly love to put on. On “Aquarius Sabotage,” it sounds like a thrash metal band crashed a hippy jam session before being abducted by aliens. “Gemini Syringes,” on the other hand, sounds like Jim Morrison’s heroine trip. Does any of this make sense? Because it shouldn’t. With all the assorted sounds and ideas, it’s hard to discern a theme from Embryonic, especially with songs like “I Can Be A Frog,” in which Karen O drops by to spout nothing but animal sounds. But Coyne and the band aren’t looking to necessarily establish a theme. If anything, the idea is birth through creativity. The songs are all created through a process that thrives off uninhibited creativity and exploration of sound.

The Flaming Lips have made songs that just glow brighter and brighter with energy. It’s rare that you find a band so beautifully execute something they feel so passionately about. While their commercial success may have peaked a couple albums back, the band’s artistic and personal success is at top form on Embryonic. It’s an album that will be a hard listen if you’re not open to it. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, and you won’t find sing-a-longs here. But as a piece of art, it can only be judged as an experimental and creative effort. One can only critique it based on whether or not the artists successfully explored and unveiled a new idea and world that is entirely their own and immensely intriguing. To that note, Embryonic is fascinating and beautiful. It is, in every sense of the word, art.

Buy Embryonic on iTunes

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