If the bearded woman that graces the cover of album doesn’t give you the idea of the chaos that lies in the creative minds of Wayne Coyne and the rest of the members of psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips, you must’ve missed the boat. Their newest release, Embryonic, comes three years after their last in 2006’s At War with the Mystics. The album encompasses all things weird and bizarre about a band who has blown minds in a live setting and infiltrated our ears for the past three decades. Coyne & Co. clearly go above and beyond anything they’ve ever done with this record and leave nothing behind, except maybe a few busted amplifiers.
This release features a much denser and darker tone than does previous releases, making it a very captivating and chilling record from top to bottom. Comprised of eighteen songs and spanning just over seventy minutes as a double album, from the outside it feels like a daunting task to complete. Featuring vocals of Karen O, frontwoman of New York band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, on “Gemini Syringes” and “I Can Be a Frog” and indie rockers MGMT featured on the boom-and-thud track “Worm Mountain”, we can see the extent of these collaborations and how they have affected the process of making this album. From the squeaking start of lead track “Convinced of the Hex” to the finale in the booming “Watching the Planets”, Wanye Coyne keeps our attention even through the distortion filled Embryonic. A few of the tracks don’t contain anything but complete calamity (“Aquarius Sabotage”) or just simply mellow keyboard synths and lingering basslines with harmonies (“Gemini Syringes”), but act as a bridge to cross to the next stage of the album.
As Coyne says in the trippy “Evil”, “I wish I could go/go back in time/I would have warned you/Those people are evil”, which the only thing evil would be for the listener not to have heard it in the first place. Not only do the Lips obliterate opposition on the album, they do it in a way which no one else could. Double albums often times contain filler that makes us lose interest before even hitting side 2. The album creates not only an atmosphere that was unmatched by other releases this year, but gives the listener an experience that is unlike most albums in today’s industry. Clearly Coyne and the rest of the gang knew what they were doing when they kept most of the details of this release pretty hush-hush, and we can see why. The Lips took a chance through their experimental change from their days of the “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”, “Race for the Prize” and “Do You Realize??”, and came up big in the process, seventy minutes worth of big to be exact.
Here’s our countdown towards WPGU’s Album of the Year:
20. Jay-Z: The Blueprint 3
19. Manchester Orchestra: Mean Everything To Nothing
18. Wolfmother: Cosmic Egg
17. The Flaming Lips: Embryonic
16. Coming Friday…Stay tuned!