I gave the Graveyard Tapes record to a friend at work to have a listen to last week. She turned to me and said ‘I would describe this as experimental’. I wouldn’t disagree with this statement to be honest but at the time I myself was listening to ‘The Terror’ the new album by The Flaming Lips. If you want experimental you can’t really look past The Flaming Lips to deliver. Even as Wayne Coyne enters his 50s he and his band are still cutting edge, breaking new ground and pushing their sound ever more towards the obscure world of experimentalism.
‘The Soft Bulletin’ will forever be one of my favourite records and I’m probably not alone in that statement. Such is the quality of that record I wasn’t sure that The Flaming Lips would ever manage to create something as engaging again. They have moved away from the mainstream since then, and of course Yoshimi, focusing more on pushing their art in different directions and breaking new ground. Any band who create a 6 hour long song are certainly not simply about producing popular music! So, it is interesting to sit and soak up ‘The Terror’, for, whilst it remains experimental and intent on keeping The Flaming Lips fresh, it is also very accessible and immediate. Does that statement make sense? I’m not sure it does, but it’s true. This is by far and away my favourite record of 2013 so far, which is saying something given the quality on offer so far this year. But this is seriously just a fucking awesome record and reminds me exactly why I love The Flaming Lips so much. It’s certainly given me a kick up the backside in terms of the Kays record and future recordings. Nothing good happens from standing still and The Flaming Lips are in perpetual motion, which makes them so important in the world of modern music and inspirational too.
‘Look…the Sun is Shining’ opens the record in really perfect fashion with rhythm and propulsion complimented beautifully by Coyne’s vocal. It’s the drums, as ever, that push The Flaming Lips onwards. Just perfect. And as track one dissipates into the dream like ‘Be Free, a Way’ and simply stunning warmth of ‘Try to Explain’ it is clear that The Flaming Lips are back and in a serious mood. If there is such a thing in their slightly mad world. And their world really is mad. I mean, listening to this record made me want to do an interview with Wayne Coyne about Gorillas – don’t ask why, it just seems like the kind of thing he’d be in to. The madness is still there, and there is quality in abundance.
Let’s just say that this record is electronic, it is experimental, it pushes boundaries and it confirms The Flaming Lips as one of the most vital and relevant bands in music today. Whether they are making 6 hour songs or delivering amazing experimental pop music The Flaming Lips just get better with age. ‘Butterfly (How Long it Takes to Die)’ is simply brilliant and even album closer, ‘All You Need is Love’, a beautiful cover of the Beatles classic made me smile. And let’s face it, it’s not often anything by the Beatles makes me happy. There is just something about The Flaming Lips; everything they touch turns to gold. ‘Turning Violent’ is the perfect example of this. Pure, solid gold.
Now in their 50s but age has no boundaries. Let’s hope they have 20 more years at least of experimental madness because without them the world of music would be a dull, dull place.