Sound: Now, before everyone starts freaking out about The Flaming Lips/Ke$ha collaboration, let's take a moment to really analyze the situation. Throughout The Flaming Lips' career, most would argue that the band has become more experimental, beginning as a lo-fi light-sided grunge band and progressing to a truly psychedelic/noise-rock band with their latest LP, "Embryonic", crossing genre after genre in between. Their new collaboration album, released on vinyl as a record-store day promotion, is arguably the band's most "experimental" collection of songs to date. "The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends" dabbles in noise rock and focuses most heavily on contrasts between softer and harder psychedelic rock, with some pop-elements thrown in. The band uses excellent transitions mid-song between styles that make for some really complex, far-out stuff, and the album's instrumentation is very impressive overall. // 9
Lyrics: It's The Flaming Lips; what can you expect from lyrics? With songs titled "Working At NASA On Acid" and "Supermoon Made Me Want To Pee", there is really nothing deep or profound in most of the songs. Moreover, a lot of the songs contain fewer lyrics, and just vocals or repeated phrases. This is not a bad thing: it fits the tone of the album, which sort of feels like a "bad trip" overall. The lyrics are a bit gloomy as a result. They're not bad, just a little ridiculous at times. Just like the band, who are also pretty ridiculous at times. The vocals do not fall short, and it would be unfair to say they did when the album is far more focused on the instrumental side of production as a whole. If you're looking for lyrics to rival T.S. Elliot, you've come to the wrong place; if you're looking to chill, sit back and enjoy. // 8
Overall Impression: The Flaming Lips seem to have taken many younger psychedelic groups under their wing for "Heady Fwends". This is a very respectable direction to take with a collaborative album, and many of these artists will probably benefit from working with a pretty well-known and intense group. These include Neon Indian, Prefuse 73, Bon Iver, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes, and Tame Impala. They also pull in some artists who have been around the block, like Nick Cave, Yoko Ono, Chris Martin, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. The album really works, and such an eclectic group of artists proves to produce a very eclectic sound overall. If you can get your hands on a copy (selling for $99 + s&h on amazon and eBay, for less in a limited number of record stores) it'd be well worth the effort.
And one last thing, since I'm sure many people will be buzzing about the first song, "2012", featuring Ke$ha. My advice to those who oppose it without listening to remember that The Flaming Lips wrote the song, not the pop artist, who only provides vocals. It's not a bad track. It may be the worst one on the album, and many would say that it is, including myself. But it isn't bad, and I encourage you to listen to it before you condemn it. // 9