Flaming Lips give birth to “Embryonic”

Wayne Coyne and the gang dive into a denser realm of psychedelia.

PHOTO COURTESY WARNER BROS.

PHOTO COURTESY WARNER BROS.

Tony Libera

The Flaming Lips ALBUM: âÄúEmbryonicâÄù LABEL: Warner Bros . Stylistic divergence can be a risky venture in the music business (even Bob Dylan got flack), but for over 20 years Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips have made a living exploring myriad musical facets, never afraid to branch out to new territories of the surreal, always searching for new modes of insanity. Their latest album, âÄúEmbryonic,âÄù traverses an even darker side of CoyneâÄôs kaleidoscopic mental terrain, making for an album thatâÄôs in ways familiar, both sonically and lyrically, and yet markedly different from their previous two psychedelic safaris. Coyne wastes no time setting the tone for âÄúEmbryonic.âÄù The first two tracks, âÄúConvinced of the HexâÄù and âÄúThe Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine ,âÄù establish this record as not only darker, but less polished, riding the thin line that separates the cacophonic from the melodic. ThatâÄôs not a con by any means; the beats are driving, the guitars jagged and twanged out and CoyneâÄôs vocal delivery is impulsive. Those components make these dense beauties sound like free flow jams instead of endlessly retooled studio productions. The Lips then slide out of dissonance and into the realm of melancholia. Years of battling robots and being at war with mystics seems to have taken its toll. Back on âÄúYoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1 âÄù Coyne looked happily into the future, never fearing because he knew Yoshimi could beat those evil natured robots. Now on âÄúEmbryonic,âÄù he looks into the past, lamenting in songs like âÄúEvil,âÄù âÄúI wish I could go back/ go back in time/ I would have warned you/ those people are evil.âÄù The downward spiral continues up through track nine, âÄúPowerless .âÄù Again, The Lips appear to be investigating the flipside of former works. On 2006âÄôs âÄúThe W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)âÄù Coyne trumpeted with pride âÄúWe’ve got the power now, mother [explitive],âÄù but âÄúPowerlessâÄù turns face. CoyneâÄôs dusty croon echoes over a gloomy and repetitive backdrop, âÄúNo one is ever really powerless/ thatâÄôs what she said when she gave me a kiss.âÄù Apparently, the unnamed âÄúsheâÄù is convinced, but CoyneâÄôs delivery and the confining overcast tones coalesce to subvert the idea. âÄúEmbryonicâÄù peaks with âÄúThe EgoâÄôs Last Stand,âÄù a staggered number that exemplifies the record. ItâÄôs dark and depressing, but thereâÄôs just a hint of optimism lurking beneath the waters. With another pull from his magic lyric bag, Coyne announces âÄúThe only way out/ is to destroy all traces/ oh, destroy yourself/ thereâÄôs no way back/ thereâÄôs complete devastation.âÄù It seems like a downer, but the title âÄúEmbryonicâÄù suggests birth. Coyne just seems to think we have to purge ourselves first.