The Flaming Lips -- Embryonic

Embryonic is the latest release from the self-ascribed 'fearless freaks', The Flaming Lips, and the title is the most spot-on descriptor of the music here. Well, maybe if the embryo is actually a maladroit android making observations about the human race and its penchant for self-destruction, then embryonic is just about right. But the record is also a kind of re-birth for The Flaming Lips themselves, as the last few albums -- beginning with 1999's brilliant The Soft Bulletin -- were all about turning up the levels of wackiness and fun; Wayne Coyne sang gleeful pop tunes about Yoshimi the mighty protector, a spider bite that could break up the band, and the "radical fanaticals" around him.

On Embryonic, however, Coyne delivers heavily distorted lines about regret, missed opportunities, and nightmares over the course of eighteen tracks that spiral from sound scape epics to two minute ideas. Sonically, the album pulls more from Clouds Taste Metallic and Zaireeka-era FL than anything they've done in the last ten years, but that doesn't mean it's a regression either. The songs here are an uncompromising clash of all the diverse elements that make The Flaming Lips a great band, staged not on a lunar landscape but right back here on earth.