It works somehow

<!– Link: The Flaming Lips

When I first donned on the headphones at a music store listening station to sample the Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin, I thought the Bacharach-on-dope strings of “Race for the Prize” were a bit precious.

So I took the headphones off and forgot about the album.

When I walked into my favorite record store one day, the store’s staff was playing a disc that I thought was Radiohead or maybe Guided By Voices with a different lead singer. It was the Flaming Lips.

Oh. The band I passed on a few months earlier.

Then I kept reading good reviews of the disc, and the album was even listed in the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll. All the subliminal hints finally came to the fore, and I gave The Soft Bulletin a second chance.


I don’t really think I can add anything different to what’s already been said about the Flaming Lips or The Soft Bulletin. It’s probably one of the best-recorded and best-arranged albums of 1999. “A Spoonful Weighs a ton” alone has all sorts of neat orchestral effects — even without a real orchestra — and that drum arrangement is pretty durned neat.

Quite frankly, the album would perversely sound rather cool if it were recorded with a real orchestra. It’s certainly has a rather epic feel. Take that, Metallica.

Wayne Coyne’s scraping vocals might wear some listeners thin after a while, but his inability to hold a note altogether straight somehow magically works with the ambition of the group’s arrangements. They work together, and it’s hard to figure out how.

Not like anyone ought to find out.

Oh, and “The Spiderbite Song” has got to be one of the most unlikely lyrics to ever grace such dramatic music.

When you got that spider bite on your hand

I thought we would have to break up the band

To lose your arm would surely upset your brain

The poison then could reach your heart from a vein