So, I live with this really awesome married couple. They have two equally awesome kids. Anyway, today Curtis (the man of the house) asked a simple question: "What is your favorite?" Not what is your favorite book, what is your favorite band, what is your favorite color, what is your favorite gladiator movie; simply, what is your favorite?
I responded, "My favorite is the Flaming Lips." Ever since purchasing The Soft Bulletin last April my hunger for The Flaming Lips has gone unstated. I'm in luck, because when a band has been around since 1983 like the Lips have, there is plenty of music to catch up on. (Putting things in context, 1983 was the year The Police broke up, the year Journey released "Faithfully" and "Separate Ways," and the year the original Star Wars trilogy was completed with Return of the Jedi.)
Around the same time (that is, last spring, not 1983) I was delighted to learn that the Flaming Lips were in the studio recording a new album.
In August, the Lips released a digital EP featuring three tracks from their then forth-coming Embryonic. A drastic change from the Bulletin-Yoshimi-Mystics pop trilogy, at first I found these tracks hard to listen to. Sure, minor keys and less-than-discernible lyrics aren't unheard of when it comes to the Flaming Lips, but they've never really been the norm, at least not in this decade. While I wasn't disillusioned, I didn't expect much from Embryonic.
I would've liked to have been more excited for this album but I just wasn't. When October rolled around, I nevertheless dutifully purchased Embryonic on its release date. After the first two listens I was largely uninterested; I found the digital EP tracks to be a fair representation of the rest of the album.
But I knew I couldn't give up on Embryonic, not yet. After all, didn't it take me over six months to finally fall in love with Yoshimi?
Around the fourth listen I don't know what happened. In the past I've tried to explain why I like or love someone or something. Recently I've learned (took me long enough) that often love needs reason or explanation.
And so it is with Embryonic.
Earlier, I mentioned that the Flaming Lips have been around since 1983. Having said that, for a band to experiment and reinvent themselves the way Lips have with Embryonic is really something rare. I feel like they could have produced an album in the vein of Bulletin-Yoshimi-Mystics -- all of which, for the most part, are smart, quirky pop albums -- and still have made a great record. It speaks to their musical integrity to take a step in the dark toward the dark; a step toward a tone that is somewhat less accessible while still maintaining their style. And this makes me glad. Because when a band seeks to redefine themselves -- in their 27th year, even -- it tells me they're going to be around for quite some time. I can't get enough of The Flaming Lips.
On a side note, remember how I mentioned that the couple I live with is really awesome? Well, here's proof:
They have not one, but two DeLoreans (for the time being anyway; they're both up for sale I believe). They set this one up for their Christmas card photo and were kind enough to let me pose in front of it because, well, who wouldn't want a picture with a DeLorean?
P.S. What is your favorite?