Good Music / Bad Music

The Flaming Lips – Embryonic

by on Sep.17, 2009, under Good Music

Flaming Lips - embryonicHey kids! It’s that time of your life again! The Flaming Lips have a new album! Where would the Lips go this time? Though ever innovative, they seemed to grow less discombobulated and more processed with each release. At War with the Mystics was okay, but it lacked the pathos of Yoshimi. When I read frontman Wayne Coyne’s unwarranted, assholish jabs at Arcade Fire and Beck, I grew weary. When “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” ended up in a salad dressing commercial, I grew worried. It seemed like any direction they could go was going to hurt them, and ultimately myself (and presumably other fickle fans). Which door would they choose?

I’m glad to announce that we can all breathe easier now. The Flaming Lips did the right thing. Embryonic embodies all of the best attributes of the dirty psychedelica we could only taste on past releases. Where At War with the Mystics sometimes depressingly embraced a 70’s nostalgia, Embryonic takes us back to the moment in the 60’s when there was no nostalgia because nostalgia was our parent’s bullshit. And though it’s underpinnings are certainly reminiscent of the better parts of that decade, the whole of the thing is definitively fresh and futuristic – the whole of the thing is definitively Lips.

Coyne seems to have taken a step into the shadows on this one. Virtually gone are his upper range, shiny happy vocals, replaced by effect drenched call outs from some black hole. Here it does not seem to be his words that affect, so much as his voice, itself. Finally, it has come into its own as an instrument unto itself, rather than overt narration. It’s not that his positive musings are no longer present. They’re there. It just seems that the message is now being conveyed by the entirety of the music as its own cohesive unit. It’s expansive and reckless, giving the listener the feeling that they just got together and did the damn thing rather than wanking through some diplomatic process of what sounded good where. The record overimpedes and distorts all over the place, and it sounds fantastic.

Wisely and fittingly, The Lips decided to unveil their new monster on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Performing as a six piece, they tore through the album’s opener, “Convinced of the Hex.” As if that wasn’t enough, they are also streaming the whole thing on Stephen Colbert’s website, colbertnation.com. It’s only there until Monday, September 21st, so check it out while you can. If you don’t, you may have to wait until its official release on October 13th.

Here is a tracklisting for those who want to keep up:

1. “Convinced of the Hex” – 3:56
2. “The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine” – 4:14
3. “Evil” – 5:38
4. “Aquarius Sabotage” – 2:11
5. “See the Leaves” – 4:24
6. “If” – 2:05
7. “Gemini Syringes” – 3:41
8. “Your Bats” – 2:35
9. “Powerless” – 6:57
10. “The Ego’s Last Stand” – 5:40
11. “I Can Be a Frog” (featuring Karen O) – 2:14
12. “Sagittarius Silver Announcement” – 2:59
13. “Worm Mountain” (featuring MGMT) – 5:21
14. “Scorpio Sword” – 2:02
15. “The Impulse” – 4:06
16. “Silver Trembling Hands” – 3:58

And not streamed are two final tracks:

17. “Virgo Self-Esteem Broadcast” – 3:45
18. “Watching the Planets” (featuring Karen O) – 5:16

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