Sound — 10
On their latest album, a double LP titled Embryonic and running at near 80 minutes, the Flaming Lips have created their longest LP to date, and their best in years. Around the turn of every decade the band put out an album that take the music they've been doing for the past 10 years or so, turns it on its head, and makes something new. In 1990 In A Priest Driven Ambulance took their Acid Punk roots and added the swirl and darkness of the shoegaze movement in england, leading into their guitar dense, melodic noise pop of the 90's. Then again in 1999, with the loss of their prized guitarist Ronald Jones, they did something different once again, starting with the Parking Lot Experiments, they designed spacious beautiful landscape with the sublime emotions of playful brightness and sad contemplativeness intertwined which culminated in Zaireeka and then finally The Soft Bulletin. Now in 2009, they've taken their mastery of studio sound, and strength as a live band, and returned to the darker feel of their earlier albums, but retained the alien sounds and sonic weirdness of their last three or four albums. The feel of these 18 tracks is much looser and jammed out than the perfect pop formulas they've been working with. While the chances of radio play may be diminished, the level of genius only grows higher. If you were to take copious amounts of psychedelic drug and then go float in deep space, you'd want to listen to this album.
Lyrics — 9
As opposed to previous albums, Wayne Coyne's voice is not always (in fact rarely is) the center of the song, his lyrics are spares, spaced out and buried. You'll also find less of the Neil Young-esque falsetto, and a bit more of a return to his normal range in order to change the feel of the songs. Due to this, the lyrics are less apparent and direct than they have been in the past, and it will definitely require multiple listens to extract their full intent, but its worth it trust me.
Overall Impression — 10
Were I to do a track by track review, this would turn into a college essay as every one of the 18 tracks leaves a definite impression. In addition the tracks flow together and make it feel like one gargantuan work of sonic experimentation. But if you need some other artist to compare to, imagine the Flaming Lips writing songs with Bardo Pond and Kraftwerk and teaming up with Miles Davis' electric jazz band to play these songs. There are contributions on the album from the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O and from MGMT, and while relatively minor they are welcome and enjoyable. The Flaming Lips have done it again with Embryonic and I'm sure we can expect a new decade of mind expanding yet catchy songs from the Flaming Lips, in a style we've yet to see them explore, considering they've been making records for 25 years now, it's quite an accomplishment to keep you're music fresh and your fans guessing. I bought this album on iTunes the moment I remembered it came out, but having seen the artwork, and heard the record now, I may want to buy the album on vinyl, it's that great.