The Flaming Lips can be viewed (and are most likely viewed) as a truly weird band. It’s completely easy to point out how weird the band’s entire discography can be, especially from an aesthetic view. The album covers are unique, the singles are completely insane, and the band members are anomalies in themselves. But, beyond all of their weirdness, their music is some of the best the world has seen in the past three decades, if not the some of the best ever made.
Bold statement, I know, but The Lips have been one of the most iconic bands in all of alternative music. The Flaming Lips are currently in their 30th (!!!) year as a band, with no signs of slowing down. They’re still making tons and tons of music.
But, maybe you’re not already aware of this. Great! Below is the band’s entire discography, categorized by listenability and greatness, from greatest to worst, starting with the very best…
1. The Soft Bulletin
In almost every aspect, The Soft Bulletin is a landmark achievement. Ambitious, symphonic, and nearly perfect, The Lips’ 9th album was the afterthought of Zaireeka – the 4 CD experiment the band released two years prior. Starting with the optimistic ‘Race For The Prize,’ the band chose not to use guitars and stray far away from the norm when it came to their music. What became of this was the most powerful music the band could ever create. Lush production, highly artistic melodies, and absolutely unforgettable vocal hooks, like “I accidentally touched my head / And noticed that I had been bleeding / For how long, I didn’t know” from ‘The Spark That Bled’ or the chorus of ‘Suddenly Everything Has Changed.’
The entire album has an incredible amount of thematic issues in the lyrics, mostly including, but certainly not limited to, mortality and death. But The Soft Bulletin fits humanity more than any other idea or concept. (I’ve once pointed out that The Soft Bulletin is “the essence of humanity.”[link: http://beardfood.com/review/the-flaming-lips-the-soft-bulletin/] )
Tracks to Hear: Race For The Prize, Waitin’ For A Superman, Suddenly Everything Has Changed, Feeling Yourself Disintegrate/Sleeping On The Roof
2. Clouds Taste Metallic
In April of 2013, I saw The Flaming Lips live for free. Personally, to be from the same state in America as these guys, inspires me greatly. But, after the “show”, I got to talk to Wayne Coyne about a few things about his career – you could call it an interview. He mentioned that Zaireeka was the first time the band went “insane.” What he means by this: This (Clouds) was the end of what The Flaming Lips were, at the moment. Clouds Taste Metallic is the last album that follows the alternative rock pattern of verse-chorus-verse rock song, which The Lips barely adhered to.
The album is a noise-gasm of brilliance, with hooks that’ll be stuck in your head for weeks, if not months. Every single song could’ve been a single. Combining ten years of music – the noisier, the catchier, and the weirder – into one solid album can be a daunting task, but The Lips do it with nearly flippant and carefree ease. If the last two tracks were cut off or relevant to this album, this would be a perfect album.
Tracks to Hear: Kim’s Watermelon Gun, Christmas At The Zoo, Psychiatric Explorations Of The Fetus With Needles, Guy Who Got A Headache And Accidentally Saves The World
3. At War With The Mystics
The Lips’ most political album. Mystics found the band at their most scatterbrained, with sparse and chaotic spread all over this album in uneven and completely awkward clusters. With tons of sound-exploring ambition, The Lips perfected many different types of psychedelic music and showcased their songwriting prowess on songs ‘My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion,’ ‘Goin’ On,”‘and ‘The W.A.N.D.’ What’s particularly special about Mystics is its variety – ‘Free Radicals’ is nothing like ‘Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung’ and ‘Vein Of Stars’ is nothing like ‘Mr. Ambulance Driver.’
Unlike the previous two albums mentioned, Mystics uses many guitars to great success (see ‘The W.A.N.D.’) and blends a variety of 60′s/70′s psychedelic rock soundscapes. Mystics is also the most nostalgic sounding Lips album to date.
Tracks to Hear: Vein Of Stars, The W.A.N.D., The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, Mr. Ambulance Driver, My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion
This article was first posted on October 15, 2013