Videos by American Songwriter

The Flaming Lips




[Rating: 4 stars]

Get set for takeoff as freak-out jam number one launches you into outer space on Embryonic’s leadoff track, “Convinced of the Hex.” With elements of krautrock and an S/M theme (based on the infamous 1974 film, “The Night Porter”) this song sets the hypnotic tone for the Lips’ experimental 18-track double disc.

A series of “unrehearsed moments” and long, unfiltered jam sessions at multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd’s house were the seed for the Oklahoma City foursome’s most psychedelic record of late. Perhaps in trying to balance the ego and the id, the freedom to lose themselves resulted in both jazz-rock-orchestral jams (“Aquarius Sabotage”) and trippy, “embryonic” tracks (“Your Bats”). But even the most seemingly innocent “I Can Be a Frog,” with animal sounds courtesy of Karen O, has creepy intonations.

Musically, “The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine” wouldn’t seem out of place on 2002’s Grammy-winning Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, but most of Embryonic lacks the pop sensibility of At War with the Mystics. Thunderous drums, fuzzy bass lines and background noise give the record more of a live feel. The galloping “Silver Trembling Hands” is a dionysian highlight, while the visceral closer, “Watching the Planets,” is filled with tribal drums. On the haunting, synth-laden “Evil,” Wayne Coyne laments not being able to go back in time, but with music this enthralling who needs to?


Leave a Reply
  1. Am I the only one that thought this record was total garbage? The ambience that pervades the album gets old after the third track but the Lips keep it going for 16. I love psychedelia but this was noise for noise’s sake…no melody or hooks throughout the album…just a few guys taking a digital sh*t and calling it art.

  2. As Coyne said, this is Miles Davis meets Joy Division–versus their last two more accessible discs. It’s pretty amazing that a major label band was able to do their own thing and release such an inventive double album now. It may take a few listens to appreciate the bass-heavy beauty but it’s worth it.

Leave a Reply