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The Flaming Lips

King’s Mouth: Music and Songs

Warner Bros.

May 17, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

On paper, King’s Mouth is the most “Flaming Lips” release you could possibly imagine.

Of course, it comes from an art installation where you enter a giant metallic head through a foam mouth only to be hit with a psychedelic explosion of sound and visuals! It’s so Flaming Lips, of course it does!

Yeah, the accompanying tale is about a giant king baby, who grows to suck the whole of the universe, thunderstorms from the south, and the aurora borealis into his giant head. It’s a child’s tale of psychedelic wonderment that you’d expect from the mind of Wayne Coyne. It’s pure Flaming Lips.

Music wise, King’s Mouth, for many people, is also probably the most Flaming Lips, Flaming Lips album in a long time, recalling as it does 1999’s masterpiece The Soft Bulletin and 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. As a kind of spiritual follow-up it returns to the breezy, optimistic psychedelic, space-pop that made them cult band of choice as the millennium came about.

After a decade of painting with darker shades, like on the foreboding, fuzzadelica of 2009’s Embryonic and 2013’s The Terror, this is a return to the Technicolour explosions that can be considered classic Lips.

Untethering himself from the real-world shackles of things like having kids and divorces, Coyne is back to his star-gazing, otherworldly philosophising. Big, crazy ideas abound throughout King’s Mouth.

Whether it is the deadpan narration of The Clash’s Mick Jones telling the tale of the giant king baby, often over a backdrop of classic sci-fi library music orchestrations, or the bubbling of weird sound effects and out of time vocal harmonies repeating Jones narrative points. As with all of The Flaming Lips’ best to date, the subtle elements just under the surface are what bring something new to the fore with each listen.

“Giant Baby” is a softened acoustic-driven, Yoshimi-like ballad, while the impish, backward creature-vocals and basic, keyboard present beats of “How Many Times??” shouldn’t work but deliver something enthralling.

The mind-expanded, Beatles psychedelic playfulness on “All for the Life of the City” telling the tale of the king baby’s demise, is a real highlight. Closing track “How Can a Head??” does surreal philosophizing in a manner that on this band can. “How can a head hold so many things?/All our life, all our love/All our songs we sing,” emotes Coyne over twinkling, expansive psych-pop.

Rumored to be essentially a Coyne solo album, in all but name, filling the gap until a new “proper” album can surface, this offers another contradiction as in many ways this feels like one of the most complete Flaming Lips albums in over a decade.

Regardless, this album is pure Flaming Lips and that alone makes it worth exploring. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 4/10


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Manikarnika Patel
May 20th 2019

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