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The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin

25 05 2011

Listened: Monday April 25

The Soft Bulletin is the only Flaming Lips album I own. I probably should pick up Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots too. My first Flaming Lips show was one of those wonderful surprises you come across once in a while in life, where low or no expectations are wildly exceeded.

My friend Leslie invited me to see the Lips at the Warfield (Liz Phair opened) in 2003 (I can’t believe it was that long ago), saying it would be a fun time. I didn’t know any of the songs then, but it was still an amazing party beyond all parties. Copious amounts of confetti, balloons, nudity, boxing nuns, hulk fists, furries, jumping, and singing followed. I’ve seen them several times since, including Wayne’s introduction of his now-famous crowd-walking hamster ball at Coachella 2004, and a tiny Noise Pop show at Bimbo’s, which we were incredibly lucky to snag tickets for.

Lest one think they are all show and no content, The Soft Bulletin contains quite a few beautiful songs including The Spark That Bled, What Is the Light? (one of my favorite songs of all time), Waitin’ For A Superman, and Feeling Yourself Disintegrate. For a bunch of burnout musicians, they sing an awful lot about scientific subjects! Who else sings songs with lyrics like “What is the light that you have shining all around you? Is it chemically derived?”

The Lips seem to be moving in a strange trajectory – they started out as very psychedelic and jammy in style. Then they became more straightforward (the period that includes Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi), and they seem to be swinging back to the psychedelic jams again, based on the last show of theirs I saw less than a year ago. I don’t think a lot of other bands follow a similar path, but maybe that’s what makes them unique.

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