Confession: I don't know much about The Flaming Lips. Sure, I've heard a few of their big songs, like "She Don't Use Jelly" and my favorite, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots." But it was from a mostly neophyte perspective that I listened to their latest release, Embryonic.
Verdict: Why have I been missing out on these guys? From the opening strains of "Convinced Of The Hex" to the closing growl of "Watching The Planets," the Lips create a hypnotic, moody world reminiscent of Pink Floyd's epic "Dark Side of the Moon."
The group's neatest hat trick is to be both sprawling and focused, due in large part to thematic consistency between its lyrics and music. While the tone of the album is often animalistic—pounding drums, primal vocals—the lyrics literalize the concept in tunes like "Worm Mountain" and "I Can Be a Frog" (featuring the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Karen O doing creature impersonations). Similarly, in "Evil," when a cacophonous melody gives way to sparse beauty, frontman Wayne Coyne croons, See the sun, it's trying again.
Like many great albums, Embryonic is best enjoyed as a complete entity. Rather than a string of singles, it feels like a universe of sound, carefully created and richly textured. If the Lips' other CDs or live shows are anywhere this good, I may just have to become a full-fledged fan.