SOUNDCHECK: Album goes down in flames
The Flaming Lips released its newest album, Embryonic, on Oct. 13. The’ album is a bit of a departure from the norm for the band,’ and has stirred up contempt among’ many of The Flaming Lips’ long-time fans.’
The album is a venture back to the band’s more experimental records, such as Zaireeka. Embryonic‘ certainly branches from a majority of the group’s previous works, especially in regards to song forms and the use of long, drawn-out jams.
The record maintains an aspect reminiscent of the jam bands of the late ’60s and ’70s. Many ambient sections with lead singer and guitarist Wayne Coyne singing long, lyrical passages explore dissonant tonalities and timbres.’
The difference in craftsmanship between Embryonic and The Flaming Lips’ previous albums is one of the biggest changes. Prior releases such as The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots contained catchy hooks, beats and bass lines that allowed the band to access a large audience of listeners.
Embryonic is a far cry from the sing-along sensibility of some of the band’s previous works. Many tracks play off the seemingly random style and playfulness the band has demonstrated at live performances.
The band, which has been together since 1983, tries to push the limits with its sound and performances. Warner Bros. Records caught wind of the band after its members nearly burned down an American Legion Hall in Norman, Okla.
The band’s run with Warner Bros. Records ended after it released Zaireeka, an experiment in musical science cooked up in 1997. The premise of the album was to create something that would be played on multiple systems at the same time. The resulting record is a tonal cacophony that requires four-speaker systems and careful timing to get the songs to play in time.
The record was never intended to sound the same twice, and perhaps the work involved in merely playing the album contributed to its limited success. The Flaming Lips pushed onward, however, managing to release four subsequent albums, including Embryonic.
Listeners familiar with the band’s previous records are likely to be disappointed with Embryonic. However, the record could be seen as a vehicle to propel The Flaming Lips into the next decade.
The group took many liberties to explore different possibilities within the contextual framework of its style and sound.
Musical exploration is a principle The Flaming Lips has exercised since the group’s beginnings and which will likely contribute to the band’s success in the future.