Review: The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends

The Flaming Lips

With their heady fwends the Lips manage to hit a range of musical bases producing an album that walks (well..walks, hurls, drags, at points maybe even regurgitates) you through lots of different vibes and feelings, doing what any good album is supposed to do. ‘Children of the Moon’ balances a nice, rugged, distorted riff with a sweet rhythm guitar. It’s warm and melodic yet edgy, tapping into that part of your brain that reminds you of pleasantry and childhood and ice cream and lots of nice things. Sure, Tame Impala does sound like he’s had a bit too much helium, but it works.

Like all good things, younger days come to end and with ‘That Ain’t My Trip’ we’re catapulted out of the induced childhood reminiscence. The heavenly, psychedelic show doesn’t end here though and in ‘You?  Man? Human?’ we’re left flying through the sky. In his super cool voice Nick Cave puts it perfectly…“Hey everybody I’m doing alriiiiiiight, I’m driving around in the middle of the niggggght, on a silver cloud!”.  There are harps, there are bells, there’s a mean guitar and there’s definitely a crazy, zealous man behind that crazy, zealous drumbeat. A favourite to be sure.

Despite the ten track lead up convincing me that The Flaming Lips were fully competent at what they do, come track eleven I still couldn’t help thinking, what the devil is Erykah Badu doing here? Sure both artists have a proven record of deserved success, but their individual hallmarks seem, at first, surely incompatible? But of course not. This is the Lips and the duo works.

‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ is a popular choice on the Cover’s Hit List. With mighty artists from Johnny Cash to Roberta Flack doing their own renditions, it’s difficult for another artist to rework something that’s been done again and again whilst still making it original and worthy. But the pair manages it, finding something in the song that you wouldn’t know existed.  It’s a frightening ten minutes long, but press play and feel your mind lift up into a euphoric haze.  Time flies.

The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends

What’s great about this album is that it’s full of twists and turns. Music is supposed to make you feel and whilst it might not be true for every single track for every single person, on a roller coaster ride the album takes you to an array of different places inducing all sorts of emotions.  Tame Impala and Edwards & The Magnetic Zeros give you forgotten memories, Erykah Badu gives you mental peace and warmth and Nick Cave and (somehow) Ke$ha give you psychedelic, deranged vision.  The album serves as a nifty little encyclopaedia too, signposting you to a few artists that you’ve probably never heard of.

This is an impressive album and despite the disparate collection of feature artists all the songs manage to synthesize brilliantly well.  In an age where artists like Ke$ha are scorned and needless polemics rage between ardent bands of supposedly mutually exclusive musical camps, it’s to the Lips’ credit that they manage to assimilate an eclectic range of artists and compose something of credibility and coherence.

9/10

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