Friday, June 29, 2012

The Flaming Lips & Head Fwends (album review)

Originally released for Record Store Day, The Flaming Lips have now given The Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends a wider distribution.  The album compiles a wide range of the one-off and rare releases that the band has been indulging in since the release of their last proper album Embryonic.

As you can imagine with a compilation of this nature, the quality of the songs is all over the map.

Some are inspired successes.  My Morning Jacket's Jim James appears for a slashing, buzzing freakout on "That Ain't My Trip".  Nick Cave joins forces with the band for a Grinderman-meets-Lips "You, Man? Human??".  Particularly successful are the infectious tribal beats on the Yoko Ono cut "Do It!".

Other tracks, like the Neon Indian collaboration "Is David Bowie Dying?", are bland toss-offs.  The same holds true for "Ashes In the Air", a far too long, bloated, and boring Bon Iver tune.

Considering the list of collaborators, the record could have far more messy numbers than it does.  The electro-blitz "2012 (You Must Be Upgraded)", which features Ke$ha and Biz Markie is the most obvious aural abomination.  On paper, the addition of Erykah Badu for a 10-minute cover of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" throws up alarms, however, the result is actually an ugly-yet-haunting triumph.

In the end it's nearly impossible to assign a rating to a release like this (though it won't stop me from trying).  However, it can be said that only the most hardcore of Flaming Lips fans need own this album.  The rest of us can wait for the next real record due out this fall.


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