With 1999’s The Soft Bulletin The Flaming Lips evolved from indie rockers with a cult following into a major band. The equally impressive follow-up Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots again delivered expertly crafted neo-psychedelic pop songs with a sonic palette as rich as Dark Side of the Moon. Since then The Flaming Lips have mixed things up, and on Embryonic the recording process itself was altered, with long instrumental jams laying the foundation for much of the music.
Fortunately, the Lips have a super- ego—and a penchant for strong musical ideas. After stripping loose jams down to song-length structures the Lips added lyrics, layers of sound, and, as usual, tweaked away at those sounds. The result: songs as catchy as they are quirky. “Convinced of the Hex,” “The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine” and “See the Leaves” rock convincingly while “Evil” and “Gemini Syringes” boast nice dream pop melodies. Somehow “Silver Trembling Hands” juggles angst and euphoria to become a memorable track.
With deep drum sounds, jagged guitar lines, and more keyboard sounds than a Yes album, Embryonic will give your stereo a workout. If you’ve never heard the Lips, however, you might want to start with The Soft Bulletin—which, it’s worth noting, was recently re-issued on vinyl.