The Flaming Lips - The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends
I spent $70 for a copy of “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends”. This exclusive, diabolically demanded Record Store Day release on vinyl. I was enamored. This was the most expensive piece of music I’d ever bought. And at that point, I hadn’t even listened to it.
The Flaming Lips are a group of psychedelic/noise/indie rock veterans who’ve done everything from cover Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” to — well you can’t really top that if you’re a psychedelic group. Through three decades of wildly ground-breaking and charming experimental rock music, it could be argued The Flaming Lips are this generation’s biggest and finest psychedelia voice. “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends” is the group’s 14th album and, unabashedly, the collaborative album to invade every indie rocker’s wet dream. Musical guests include Ke$ha, Biz Markie, Bon Iver, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Yoko Ono, Neon Indian, Chris Martin of Coldplay and I’m only halfway through.
There’s only one feasible way to define all thirteen sprawling tracks of the album. This is what it’d sound like if a dozen or so artists dropped acid and got trapped in a fun-house crawling with manic serial killers. With this in mind, “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends” is conceptually hilarious. The Flaming Lips navigate each featured artist through the sheer sonic madness they’ve invented, then observing how they respond the high-voltage psychedelia. On the ear-splitting opener “2012 (You Must Be Upgraded)”, featuring Ke$ha and Biz Markie, it’s like The Flaming Lips created a room in their fun-house where daggers are being shot out of the walls and anything you touch will electrocute you to a morbid death; then we see Ke$ha, her drunken swagger and all, completely kick its ass and leaving the room without a scratch on her.
Each track here is really nervous. It’s part of what makes “Heady Fwends” such an enjoyable and exciting experience; these collaborations are built to satisfy and impress, not just a piece of novelty fodder that seemed great on paper but lack ambition in the studio. The Flaming Lips having a reputation of enforcing that too; working with such a group isn’t simple. They understand what their featured artists have to offer and then instruct them to keep up on the tightrope they tread on together. Tracks like “Ashes in the Air” with Bon Iver or “That Ain’t My Trip” featuring My Morning Jacket’s Jim James are something The Flaming Lips would put out anyways, but with the Midas touch of outside artists that make for something a new flavor of psychedelic noise rock.
“The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends” is a loaded album, even for a steep $70, there isn’t a void left to be filled: my funds did not go to waste. The riveting level of color and detail seems like it spans galaxies within 70 minutes of run-time. It saddens me to think a mere 10,000 set of hands will be able to enjoy this gem on it’s original and intended format, but regardless of vinyl, “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends” is a knock-your-socks-off LP ready to be loved by those ready for a fun-house on acid experience.
This album was my dad. (10/10)
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