The Flaming Lips Open Up Wide

noah | October 13, 2009 10:00 am

Our continuing look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to Embryonic, the 12th studio album from Oklahoma’s own Flaming Lips: • “Back in 1990, In a Priest Driven Ambulance signaled the Lips’ transformation from garage-punk misfits into a splendorous, kaleidoscopic rock outfit; 1999’s The Soft Bulletin reconfigured them once again into a sophisticated, sincere symphonic-pop troupe bestowed with increasing commercial acclaim and street-naming ceremonies in their honor. We can only hope that, as we enter the 2010s, Embryonic portends yet another new phase for the Flaming Lips—one that’s equally as improbable and rewarding as the ones that have preceded it.” [Stuart Berman, Pitchfork] • “This is accessible music pushed to the very edge of accessibility, far away from the safety of the band’s song-oriented efforts At War with the Mystics and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. All due respect—the Lips did good as pied pipers for the freak-flagged populace, but this here underneath is some fertile soil indeed.” [Zeth Lundy, Boston Phoenix] • “So trust them to take this tool and turn it into an art form. For Embryonic sounds like it was mastered by a serial killer. On ‘Aquarius Sabotage’, jagged spears of silvery noise pierce your consciousness. Even at low volume this album screams ‘Stop what you are doing and listen to me!’ The opening salvo of ‘Convinced Of The Hex’ and ‘The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine’ alone will have you blinking at the sheer brightness of the sound.Ten years after their last masterpiece, The Flaming Lips have finally produced another one. ” [John Doran, NME] • “For all its flaws and failings, for all that you may never feel like listening to it again, it’s hard not to be perversely glad Embryonic exists. In 2009, the music industry seems pretty barmy again, what with everyone denouncing everyone else over illegal downloading, but its madness is not the wild, doomed, artistic risk-taking sort of the post-Nirvana goldrush. Most bands and labels alike have expunged everything but the safe option. Whatever else it may be, Embryonic certainly isn’t that.” [Alexis Petridis, The Guardian]