Unfortunately, seeing as how The Flaming Lips haven't released any new material this year I've had to slum it with their last album, which was done in October 2014. But as I'm covering the lead up to Sound City still, I couldn't not review one of the main headliners. Hopefully they release a new album soon!
The Flaming Lips have never shied away from the eccentric and weird. Coming hot off the heels of their previous cover album in which they reinterpreted Pink Floyd’s classic The Dark Side of the Moon, this time they have decided to cover The Beatles album Sergeant Pepper. But do we have to admit it’s getting better? With A Little Help From My Fwends feels a lot more like a tribute album more than a reinterpretation, and I feel like the band probably treated the source material with far too much reverence, as a lot of the songs feel like they have only been changed by the lightest of touches. If we compare how Jimi Hendrix covered (and in many ways bettered) Bob Dylan’s classic, All Along the Watchtower, then it doesn’t really stand up. I’d argue that what was interesting and ambitious with their Dark Side of the Moon is a pretty straightforward cover album – sure the vocals sound detached and filled with reverb like they were sung in a tunnel, some synths and Miley Cyrus are thrown in for good measure, but the album’s not really all that different apart from the most superficial of ways.
The whole thing just feels adequate, like an acid trip described by a friend – you get the sense of what it’s supposed to be, but because it’s a second hand experience you get none of the vibrancy of the original experience. I really wanted to like this, but I can’t honestly recommend it. The album’s by no means terrible, it’s competent, but there is no time for competent when there is so much spectacular music you could and should be listening to. However, although I have given this album a good old drubbing, I can definitely recommend you check The Flaming Lips out at Sound City. Their live shows are meant to be the thing of legend, and seeing as they have over a decade’s worth of material, including the sublime Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, you’d honestly be doing yourself a disservice missing this brilliantly bizarre band.
Monthly music columnist for the Kirkby Extra, sometimes article writer for Get Into This. Freelance writer/artist/maker.