The Flaming Lips never cease to amaze me. Every album is a completely different take on the musical genius of the entire band. Though many songs from the Lips discography seem to lead the band in an unpopular direction, commercially speaking, they have definitely done things right with their latest release, Embryonic. Wayne Coyne has taken a step back from center stage and joined the rest of the band. Though they have lost most of the ‘sing-song’ qualities in these songs, Embryonic succeeds on many levels. The record seems to have fallen into darker, more psychedelic territory. Other Lips albums explored psychedelics, but it was always hidden behind the leading narrative of each story in those songs.
There are several highlights on the new album. “Worm Mountain” is an amazing mix of everything The Flaming Lips have done to this point. The song features MGMT, which was a very good call on their end; these two bands were meant to work together. The end of the song conjures a The Soft Bulletin vibe with its string section. The album ends with a dramatic finale, “Watching the Planets,” featuring Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Embryonic seems to focus more on the actual music rather than what will ‘sound good’. It’s not easy to put out a double album that engages the listener from beginning to end; and for me, the Flaming Lips accomplish this. Every song on Embryonic will have you moving with the music, and that contagious Flaming Lips enthusiasm comes across in every note. The one downside of the album may be that you can’t really tell many of the songs apart, as they all seem to blend into one extremely long composition. The album does work on extended listens. You’re just not going to find many singles that stand out. What’s next for the band? How about their interpretation of Dark Side of the Moon featuring Henry Rollins and Peaches?
PS. If you miss the good ol’ At War With The Mystics Flaming Lips, then just get the deluxe version of the album, which includes four bonus tracks.