Sound — 8
The first thing that a listener of this album should remember is that the Flaming Lips are not Pink Floyd. The latter has achieved such a high status in modern musical society that to even make that comparison would be a discredit to both bands. That said, the Flaming Lips are extraordinarily good in their own right. When comparisons were made calling the Lips the "Pink Floyd of our generation", most people took that to mean in terms of staying power, relation, and overall appeal. In all reality, the reason it's possible to compare the two is because there ARE no bands that sounds just like either or them. Like them or hate them, the Flaming Lips offer a sound that is both attractive and unique, similar to their idols. That being said, Dark Side Of The Moon is an album I personally wouldn't want done by a clone, or by a band who feels the need to copy every note of the original masterpiece. The Flaming Lips have done a remarkable job of stripping the original down to its meat and bones, and injecting a miasma of their own style into it. The result is something that be looked at as neither a covers attempt, nor a purely original record, but rather something in between. On the Lips' album, many of the songs take on an entirely different connotation. "Time", one of the most memorable songs in rock history, has been turned on its head. Whereas the original began with a sense of foreboding leading up to the climax, the Lips instead broke out with a cacophony of sound that instantly evaporates into one of the most spine-chilling moments of the album. "Us and Them" removes the grandiose nature of the original and instead serves as a haunting lullaby, which makes the transition into "Any Colour You Like" all the more shocking. Not all of the songs manage to make a good enough name for themselves to be judged apart from the predecessors, however. "The Great Gig In The Sky", which originally featured Clare Torry's angelic cries, now features a heavily over-modulated Peaches (yes, really. that's who's credited) who would probably sound more appealing if she was in labor delivering a porcupine...spikes first. Sure, the music might be a solid jam, but I personally would've rather heard the music without the voice. "Brain Damage" also does not quite live up to its father, but instead serves as nothing more than a jumping point into "Eclipse". While this was true in the original as well, I have yet to meet someone who insists they would rather have brain damage than listen to it. Generally though, the album produces a sound that had it not first been an album by Pink Floyd, would be received far better. The Flaming Lips did the absolute perfect thing to pay tribute to their idols: rather than try and copy a masterpiece we all know can't be duplicated, they instead paid tribute without forgetting who they are as a band. Some moments don't work, but the ones that do work very, very well.
Lyrics — 7
Luckily, most of the work has been done for me with regards to lyrical content. Dark Side of the moon turns 37 this year, and since 13 of those years were spent on the Billboard 200, most people have their own interpretations of the actual lyrics and what they are trying to say versus what they actually say. With regards to the Flaming Lips, the Dark Side's original lyrics don't quite match up with the new sound the Lips brought to the album. I found it very hard to "breathe, breathe in the air" when i found myself breathless by the auditory overload. Some songs work far better than others, and Wayne Coyne's voice fits those moments so well that I personally find them far more enchanting and endearing than the original. The introduction of lyrics into "Time" is actually spine-chilling, and the entirety of "Us And Them" is perpetuated by Coyne's seraphim-like blessing, lulling us away from our fears and worries and into someplace more cerebral, deep within the walled-up recesses of our mind. Even the song "Money", which anyone who's been near a radio since 1973 knows by heart, has had its style changed so dramatically you'd never think it would be possible to salvage it. Yet, Wayne's voice is so haunting during the song it almost serves as a testament to how much of a genius he's been in his other works. Mr. Coyne gets a full 10 out of 10 for his performance. Unfortunately, the supporting cast doesn't match up, and several instances of what might have been pure insanity were destroyed by their voices. Henry Rollins performs the spoken word portion of the album, and while his reading is certainly unique, it is far too cynical for either the original or the Lips version, and only discredits and grates against the otherwise tonal precision the Flaming Lips are noted for. Peaches also completely destroyed "The Great Gig In The Sky" for me, one of my favorites on the original. For my opinion of her performance, read the "sound" portion of this review again. Overall, the lyrics haven't changed, just the style in which they're conveyed. Had the Lips used the original voices for the spoken word and for Clare Torry, Wayne Coyne might have stumbled across a totally unique and incredible way to use the lyrics to his advantage. Sadly, the supporting lyrical cast stumbles so hard it's impossible to forgive.
Overall Impression — 8
I am already aware that many people wrote this album off as terrible before it was even released. Some of the more sensible people out there might have gotten through it once or twice before passing judgment, but inevitably they too found fault with the Lips' version of a timeless classic. However, this album seems to not extend its branches to the members of the public that don't already appreciate or love the Lips, but rather closes those branches around the people in the tree who have already fell in love with them. As a fan of both the Lips and Pink Floyd, I can understand why some people don't get it, or simply write this off as an auditory assault. But the Lips gave their treatment to one of the most influential CDs ever released. Had Pink Floyd not shattered the musical world with Dark Side over 35 years ago, this would hold up against and even surpass every other Flaming Lips album as one of their best. There's a chance that if the Lips didn't have the monolith to stand in front of already that this album would've cast some pretty big shadows of its own. Yes, Dark Side of the Moon is an auditory masterpiece so well performed that the original rightfully shouldn't be replicated in its pure form. Yet the Lips gave it its own meaning, its own concept, and its own unique sound. When compared with its maker, the Flaming Lips can't hold up to the brilliance of its father. But if looked at in its own right, the album missteps a few times but altogether holds up as a pure and coherent composition. Sure, it may not be a masterpiece, but it's not trying to be: it's simply out there, humble enough to take the background but powerful enough to overwhelm anyone who should venture into it.