The Flaming Lips
The Soft Bulletin
The Flaming Lips have never sat still for long. It’s difficult to believe that one of the largest labels around would be willing to put up with such mercurial and un-mass-marketable material. For all I know, Warner is crossing their fingers for another “She Don’t Use Jelly,” but I’d like to think that they recognize and respect the thinking man’s approach that Flaming Lips guitarist/vocalist/linchpin Wayne Coyne takes to his musical evolution.
The Soft Bulletin: Music and Songs by The Flaming Lips is the name on the cover this album, and the subdued artwork complements the vastly orchestral compositions contained within. Produced by Dave Fridmann, the Lips now share a lot of Mercury Rev’s weirdly cinematic psychedelia, which may offend a lot of olde tyme fannes. The guitar work and composition is still uniquely Coyne’s, with that trademark tipsy slide. “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton” stands out for its Zeppelin-like power chorus and gentle verses. The gently instrumental “The Observer” is soothing, oddly soothing for a Flaming Lips song, I should say.
It’s difficult to judge this in the context of other Flaming Lips albums — they’ve become that type of band. As a standalone opus, it fares pretty well. It’s bombastic at times, but never really overwhelming. As usual, Fridmann’s production is a textbook for studio disciples, and the interplay between his glistening touches and the band’s heavy-lidded approach is something worth investigating.