I was watching The Colbert Report the other day and the Flaming Lips were on the show, doing a song from their new album Embryonic. I was impressed. Now, a bit of context: I own only one album by the Lips, The Soft Bulletin, which is a great record, though I've also heard Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, and have seen the film about the band, The Fearless Freaks. So, that's obviously not a comprehensive discography. What intrigued me about the song, though, is that it didn't sound like anything I've heard before from the band. It's not the floaty, funny, clean, bouncy sound of TSB or Yoshimi. It was louder and freakier and the vocals were so low (both in the arrangement and in pitch). Kind of reminds me of the vocals on Electric Wizard's Dopethrone record in a way.
So the whole album is now streaming on Colbertnation.com and I'm listening to it right now. The song they played on the show seems to be pretty representative of the album as a whole. There's no track names, which sucks, but it really feels like an album. It kind of sounds like the nightmare version of the band. The Soft Bulletin is a very dreamy and fairly cheerful record, with the exception of a few songs. Embryonic is so dark and trippy, as if most of the pop elements have been ripped away. And I couldn't be happier about that.
For a while, I thought the Lips were pretty overrated, because even though I love TSB, it's not one of my favorite records ever or anything, it's just really really good. I really don't listen to it a lot. And I think I listened to Yoshimi once or twice and nothing about it caught my attention. It just seemed like your average pop record, some catchy choruses here and there, slick production, loud vocals, etc. But I guess this band is capable or a lot more than that. I'm glad to hear that they've made an exciting and sonically intriguing record by going in a different direction.