The Flaming Lips - Embryonic (5 stars)

The Flaming Lips - Embryonic

There’s always been something wistful and longing in the musical waywardness of Oklahoma’s finest ever export The Flaming Lips. Even at their most poptastic and goassamer there was an air of introspection. Nowhere is this more acutely illustrated than on ‘Do You Realize?’ from 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, a song pondering the precarious nature of our own mortality while making us smile like goons. But after two albums of comparative gentility they delve head first off the precipice into darkness.

Embryonic is a big ol’ double album, an expansive, sprawling trip that explores all the many facets of The Flaming Lips’ twilight hours. Dark, grinding motorik Can-like grooves such as ‘Sea the Leaves’ and ‘Watching the Planets’ nestle next to twinkling, astral tweaks like ‘If’ and ‘Gemini Syringes’, showing different shades and colours of a band not entirely familiar with the notion of artistic compromise.

It's not all navel gazing as Wayne Coyne still finds time to float out the gently silly ‘I Can Be a Frog’ (where Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs supplies a nice line in animal noises) and the bombastic fury of ‘Worm Mountain’ where kindred spirits MGMT bring a dose of overloaded guitar disfunction to bear on the tumult.

The Flaming Lips sound more like a live band than they have in ten years. Tracks smoulder and bubble for a few minutes before exploding into molten riffs driven by Kliph Scurlock’s dynamic stick work.

A warning however, you have to be in it for the long haul with Embryonic, it takes persistence and patience to uncover the full magic held within. This isn’t entirely surprising though is it? The Flaming Lips, over their chequered 26-year sonic adventure have never travelled the easy path. Why should they start now?


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