The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends
Jul 04, 2012 Web Exclusive
Is that Ke$ha fondling Wayne Coyne's foot? It certainly is...
The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends is a collaborative record that is perhaps the most surprising and surprisingly fun album The Flaming Lips have ever released. And that's saying a lot (because, come on, this is The Flaming Lips). It is a dyed-in-the-wool Flaming Lips record—that is to say it's equal parts druggy, heavy, anthemic, melancholic, and funny—while leaving ample room for arguably the most eclectic collection of musicians assembled since "We Are the World," including Bon Iver, Nick Cave, Lightning Bolt, Erykah Badu, and Biz Markie (I know, right?)
Ultimately this album's faults are the ways in which either label or band seems to have underestimated its potential. Its booklet, despite offering some great pics of Mr. Coyne with his guests in the midst of candid (and likely stoned) fun, is easily the blandest and least creative sleeve art ever to accompany The Lips' music. After setting a high bar with their previous releases, it's frankly disappointing to see a booklet with Courier type printed atop streaks of dark grey like a low-rent metal release. The production quality is a bit demo-ish and smeary, and while it's certainly not lo-fi and often contributes positively to the vibe (especially Badu's gorgeous MBV-esque vox on "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"), one can't help but wonder where a little more elbow grease could have taken this material.
That aside, there is much to recommend on ...And Heady Fwends. The opening track, the Doctor Who sampling "2012 (You Must Be Upgraded)," features Ke$ha, Biz Markie, and Hour of the Time Majesty 12 contributing to a track that finds the psych-y stamp of The Lips receiving something akin to the treatment that the title suggests. It's fantastic and reaching stuff that sets you up for a great ride whose highlights include a spirited preacher/barker vocal from Nick Cave on "You, Man? Human???" and "That Ain't My Trip" which features Jim James singing one of the funniest opening lines this writer's ever heard.
If someone had edited or polished this collection more heavily, this could have been not only a top-tier Flaming Lips record but one of the best records of the decade. As it stands, it's still quite a special document and points a direction for the possibilities of a collaborative record when serious creativity comes to the fore. (www.flaminglips.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 8/10