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A brief thought on The Flaming Lips

Written: May 30, 2004

Some folks may have noted on my page that I had spent a fair amount of time listening to The Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It’s a strange album to listen to – not because they do far-out musical things, but because I feel as if they’re lying to me.

What I mean by that is I feel as if the sound they’re adopting is just that – adopted. That they’re putting on some kind of musical mask and creating music that doesn’t reflect the real them. (‘Real them’? What does that mean?) This weird sense of musical insincerity is reinforced by their previous album, which I interpret as a send-up of ’70s prog rock.

But that’s not to say that sound like fakers or phonies. Perhaps that’s to say that they’re very good musical chameleons, and play their roles with artistry and inventiveness – but they are still roles. It’s as if their music, at least partly, is a commentary on the style it’s mimicking. That they’re trying to draw attention not only to their songs, but to the tradition from which their music draws.