A fearless shot of genius in the dark
The Flaming Lips - The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends

Following last year’s over-indulgence of EPs, including a six-hour long track, it’s back to normality for Wayne Coyne and crew, although ‘normality’ is not a word that sits comfortably with any review of the band’s material! As the title suggests, this latest album is made up of collaborations with other artists, ranging from Ke$ha to Nick Cave and, whilst the essential weirdness of the band is omnipresent, the introduction of external influences has certainly tempered that and in several directions.

Cave adds menace, as only Cave can, whilst Bon Iver and Yoko Ono implant their own clear identities on their particular contributions. Erykah Badu joins for a clumsy yet compelling rendition of ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’, even if the subsequent publicity surrounding the video has engulfed it. Elsewhere, lesser known artists are given a free ride, where their presence is perhaps less imposing, allowing Coyne to take up usual command. As a project, it’s a captivating mix of material, yet hangs together well and has a surprisingly easy flow. Whilst that suppressed weirdness may be a detraction to the diehard fans, it makes for the band’s most accessible work since ‘Yoshimi...’.

Where they head to next is anybody’s guess of course, but the band’s catalogue is enriched by what is a fearless shot of genius in the dark.


Words by TC


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