I got into The Flaming Lips when this album exploded, oh ten years ago now. It still transports me to a bouncy castle drug world like the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine movie did. The Flaming Lips started as a kind of punk psychedelic band and melted into their own unique form of electronic fuzz and head music. They were recently almost ruined when Men’s Journal decided that going to one of their concerts was “a bucket list” experience and their sheep subscribers swarmed in droves, in search of a life-affirming event they could purchase on Ticketmaster.
Their concerts are a trip, they have fun with the audience and throw giant bouncy balloons, and singer Wayne Coyne crowdsurfs in a huge hamster ball. It’s a good show. I was sober, so I didn’t merge with the infinite or excrete enlightenment rainbows. I had a good time.
Their albums are beginning to sound alike, but they are engaging for me, and make great writing music. They are the musical equivalent of world-building, immersive like a good novel, video game, or movie experience. Yoshimi is probably the best introduction, but most of their albums from Clouds Taste Metallic onward will work for you. Transmissions from the Satellite Heart has their minor ’90s hit “She Don’t Like Jelly,” but they are probably best known for “Do You Realize?” now, which everyone wants played at their funeral:
Do You Realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize – we’re floating in space –
Do You Realize – that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round
So check out Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and The Soft Bulletin before delving into headier stuff like At War with the Mystics and Zaireeka (4 discs meant to be played at once). Hit to Death in the Future Head is good too. If you require more of a rock sound, start there and with their earlier albums.