I’ve known of The Flaming Lips for a long time. I vaguely remember seeing them play in Oklahoma in the fall of 1986. Fast-forward twenty-something years and Last.fm is constantly telling me that I need to listen to them. So about 4 months ago I downloaded a few of their albums and totally fell in love. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is so fucking good it instantly became one of my all time favorites.
So here I am, all excited about The Flaming Lips and as luck would have it they were about ready to release a new album – Embryonic. They even had 3 of the tracks already on iTunes which I purchased right away. Then I listened to them. WTF? This didn’t even sound like the same band. On top of that, unlike the beautiful recordings with special headphone surprises of their last few albums, these tracks sounded like they were recorded badly, on a 4-track, in a garage.
Soon after, they started promoting the new album and had the whole thing streaming on the web in a few places. So I gave it a couple of listens but I was still disappointed. My friend Steve says that the first album you really like from a band will usually always be your favorite. I find that’s mostly true. Rarely does a band reinvent themselves and it makes you like them more – after all, you fell in love with the old version. That said, Radiohead certainly did it with Kid A.
So here’s the thing about Embryonic; in my opinion it’s not really a collection of songs. It’s more like one 70 minute epic. Right after it came out 3 weeks ago, I bought it, put it on my iPod and went out running with it. That’s where it finally made sense to me. Once I was able to focus on it and listen to the whole thing – none of the tracks out of context – it began to reveal itself. Now, something like 3 dozen complete listens later, I have to say it’s brilliant. I love it more each time I hear it. It’s without a doubt my favorite Flaming Lips album so far.
I shot this video on my phone yesterday as I drove over the favorite part of my usual running route. “See The Leaves” came on and it felt perfect. I thought I’d try to share it with you.