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The Flaming Lips - American Head (Album Review)

Wednesday, 16 September 2020 Written by Rebecca Llewellyn

‘American Head’ heralds a new era for the Flaming Lips, as flamboyant, free-spirited chaos is replaced by a reflective, brooding nature. On the psych-pop survivors’ 16th album, they evoke solemn beauty from their music, the likes of which we’ve not heard from them before.

Through jangling guitars and distorted vocals the Flaming Lips move in a sort of waltz, utilising seamless transitions from one song to the next to provide a soft, soulful listening experience. Wayne Coyne’s lyrics are woozy, almost delirious, amid instrumentals that reflect the feelings conveyed. 

With a deliciously abstract view of the world, Coyne expels emotions as a colourful splatter, seeming to turn sadness into fluorescent aqua, anger into scorching red, and happiness into glowing magenta. 

Throughout, gliding vocal pitches meet ambient spoken segments, as on the spacey quasi-fade out of the second track Watching the Lightbugs Glow. Cradles of drums and guitars cleverly overlap to create texture, providing a tapestry of sound so vibrant it appears tangible. 

Coyne’s vocals reach new heights, built upon such a confessional body of work. No frailty is left unexplored, as he opens up to mistakes, addressing those he most adores. He confronts personal demons head on. During Mother I’ve Taken LSD, a song that squares their space-rock roots with this record’s sun-baked Americana, he describes how recreational drug use altered his viewpoint on life. “I thought it would set me free but now I think it's changed me,” he sings. “Now I see the sadness in the world.” 

As profound as it is pure, ‘American Head’ is equal parts an exploration of sound and an evolving emotional psyche. Unlocking our own minds with that reliable Flaming Lips eccentricity, it lifts us to the stratosphere. Feelings are conveyed, and in turn we are able to feel them back.

The Flaming Lips Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat July 17 2021 - GALWAY Festival Big Top
Mon July 19 2021 - LIVERPOOL Invisible Wind Factory
Tue July 20 2021 - LEEDS Leeds Uni Stylus
Wed July 21 2021 - AYLESBURY Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Sun July 25 2021 - BEXHILL ON SEA De La Warr Pavilion

Click here to compare & buy The Flaming Lips Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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