The Flaming Lips: American Head (Warner) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, March 4th, 2021  

The Flaming Lips

American Head


Sep 11, 2020 Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney Bookmark and Share

The Flaming Lips’ sixteenth studio album in just over 30 years finds bandleader Wayne Coyne both taking stock of his past and boldly going where no man has gone before—into deep space, that is. And with the space cowgirl herself, Kacey Musgraves, along for the ride, well, why not high tail it out of here? Coyne, who once openly accepted the ultimate end on “Do You Realize??” now seems wary of the road ahead. Faced with the prospect of long gone friends (“Will You Return/When You Come Down”) and dead dinosaurs (“Dinosaurs on the Mountain”), it seems Mother Earth has little left to offer. 

What American Head does particularly well is framing Coyne’s story in an ever so patient space odyssey. Where many bands before (and the Lips themselves) have tried to play out the drama of high space battles, this album finds the final frontier to be a place of great distances and peaceful tones. It’s almost as if Coyne lets the rest of the band steer the ship to Neptune and beyond while he nostalgically reflects out the back hatchback onto an ever distancing home planet. The sequence of songs and the song titles of the album’s middle section point to an earlier time. Look no further than “At the Movies on Quaaludes” to get to Coyne’s longing for an era (and a drug) gone by.

In keeping with the album’s gentler cadence, it lacks the anthemic moments of Lips classics, but has its share of higher pulsed highlights. Of the reflective songs, the dream of being “dope dealin’ celebrities” on “You n Me Sellin’ Weed” is especially charming. And though it points to a black hole of longing for simpler times, “Assassins of Youth” picks up the pace for a moment as bleeps and blips flit across the control panel.

In contrast to the fanciful King’s Mouth, the group’s last time out, the similarly titled American Head gets right inside of Coyne’s noggin. The album has a slow chain drive narrative to it that feels as close to a recounting as anything the group has done. And there is a certain comfort in settling in for the album’s nearly hour-long journey to the before and the beyond. With things decidedly on the decline here on the Big Blue Marble, you can’t blame Coyne for packing up his memories and seeking fairer shores. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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September 13th 2020

my rating for this album is 9/10, it is oo good album totally loved it.

September 19th 2020

Excellent review. Probably the first Lips album since “Embryonic” that I’ll go back to.