Most helpful positive review
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Spacey, Cluttered, and Instinctive
on June 26, 2012
The Flaming Lips have never backed away from a good collaboration (2009's The Flaming Lips Doing Dark Side Of The Moon). This new album is 13 songs by the Flaming Lips in conjunction with another music artist. Of course, this is going to lead to some strange pairings: who wouldn't scratch their heads at the prospect of The Flaming Lips + Ke$ha? Or The Flaming Lips + Erykah Badu? Or The Flaming Lips + Yoko One? Ok, maybe that last one makes sense. In some ways, this record is a greatest hits collection: EP's of collaborations with Neon Indian, Yoko Ono, Prefuse 73, and Lightning Bolt have all been released. These interesting experiments varied wildly in quality; here, THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS collects some of these past songs. The resulting album is a mixed bag -- better than it probably should be, but not as good as 2009's EMBRYONIC.
The album begins with the Ke$ha and Biz Markie collaboration "2012 [You Must Be Upgraded]". It's fast, loud, electronic, and immediate. Rather than spacing out on the first song (that comes with the next track), "2012" is mostly pretty grounded. This song raises two questions for me: why is Biz Markie here? He only has one half of a line. Additionally, why use Ke$ha, if you're not going to have her be the stubborn, hamfisted, party-rocker personality that we know her as? Ke$ha is oddly reigned in here on this recording. Gripes aside, it works. "That Ain't My Trip," a reeling, sloppy rocker featuring Jim James from My Morning Jacket feels like it has potential, but falls a bit short by the end; Nick Cave's "You Man? Human???" follows the same vein. "Is David Bowie Dying?" is a submerged, electronic, reverby ballad that would have sounded in line on Mark Linkous/Danger Mouse's DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. New Fumes' effort "Girl, You're So Weird" sounds like it might be the most accessible on the album -- a calm before the storm -- "Tasered and Maced" is a spoken-word piece that feels like a bizarre way to end the album, even for the Flaming Lips.
THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS is cluttered, spacey, and instinctive; rather than being too cerebral, the creative moves here feel like gut-reactions. Chances are, if you're reading this review, you at least have some idea of what to expect from this. Listeners unfamiliar with The Flaming Lips are suggested to start somewhere else in the band's catalog (THE SOFT BULLETIN or YOSHIMI come to mind). Standout tracks: "2012 [You Must Be Upgraded]", "Is David Bowie Dying?", and "I'm Working At NASA On Acid." This album has plenty of good moments, you just have to be patient enough to let them play out.