If Radiohead are the kings of alternative rock, then The Flaming Lips are the jokers. Constantly defying what's popular, yet somehow forcing themselves into everyone's cd library. Just take a look at these guys; whether it's Wayne Coyne wearing a $2000 suit covered in fake blood on stage, the band rolling around in clear, ten foot tall/wide bubbles over the audience, or just a picture of the band standing and giving us their little eight year old smirks, these guys may be odd, but it's hard to deny their amazing music. This is only a petit example on the first of their Yoshimi EP's, Fight Test.
When one listens to this EP, the listener is usually confused at what this is; is it a remix EP? Nope. Is it a covers album? Partially, but what it most dominantly is just a damn fine, seven-track album that at places really packs a punch towards the listener. So, without further ado, here's the EP.
The album kicks off with the original album version of Fight Test
. Sort of like the starting pistol at the 1,000 meter dash, this song has enough oddities to make it's claim as a Lips song, but also has the definitive touch of sincerity that makes it an amazing listen. As far as the music goes, it's not too impressive, so to say, but it's not how they play; it's the effect that the spectacular chord structures and the variety of instruments that make your jaw drop; the overall beauty of the song is almost over-whelming. The vocals are also very proffesional, something not that the Lips are not most fond of; they're very calm, yet distraught as they sing about the training of a little, eight-year-old girl who's off to fight a swarm of gigantic pink robots. The result is an amazing song that is the musical equivalent of the Yoshimi cover art - a young warrior facing horrible odds of survival against a large, frightening and oddly adorable giant creature. Unfortunately, this isn't the running mood of the album; hell, they've already used it for Yoshimi, but it's a shame because this album seems to have a lack of flow. The songs are quiet varied and don't tell as story, so therefore the result isn't as interesting as the full length albums; it's just a bunch of good songs.
Good songs, of course, save for a few. The remix of the formerly brilliant Do You Realize??
is a long, dull and anything-but-Lipsish version of the song. It's essentially a 1999 party dance mix, and it's really, really boring. The whole fizzy space pop gets old really fast, and it just doesn't seem to end. Clocking in at over nine minutes long, this song doesn't leave a good mark on the album; it, unfortunately, is just one of those Crazy Frog
or Hampster Dance
songs that takes the brilliance of the Flaming Lips and butchers it. If you're eight years old, this song can amuse you. If you're over 12, then you really shouldn't waste you're time.
The cover songs are brilliant, to say the least. The cover of Beck
's The Golden Age
is about as incredible as a good portion of Nirvana
's Unplugged session. It's an acoustic gem, complete with an ailing and trudging piano. The coarse, painful and breathtaking vocal performance is only one of the many things to savor in this brilliant cover; others are the simple yet extremely enjoyable guitar, with a slow and climbing guitar strum, as well as the backup instruments that include piano, slide guitar and a pounding drum performance. The cover of Radiohead
's Knives Out
takes the brilliance of the original, steals the guitar riff and transfers it into a piano piece, which is as sad as the original but adds that assurance that it's a Flaming Lips song, so it's still quite an enjoyable listen. The whole song isn't that varied, but it doesn't really make for a big issue, seeing as the Lips crank out as much emotion as they can, which makes for a constantly enjoyable listen. The cover of Can't Get You Out Of My Head
does justice to the original version, but it's also fair to say that the Lips take this song and give it a royal treatment. The song itself has a theatrical, big and eruptive aspect to it; it constantly gains strenght, especially in the thundering percussion and string sections, where the progression is imminent and noticable, but also in the persistance of Wayne's performance. He's just sitting there and strumming an acoustic guitar, and giving us his all with his hoarse voice, which isn't to say that it's a bad thing. No, it's a very amazing vocal performance, as he has as much passion as the music itself, and while he may end up repeating himself for a little while, it never gets boring.
The "strange design" of new song The Strange Design Of Conscience
is that it's very varied; it has a faint accordion in the background throughout the song, but the forward music is a phased guitar and electronic drumset. As far as musical performance goes, this isn't anything special, but like it's predecessors, it's a very amazing listen, just for it's overall incredible effect alone. This song may have a twist of space-age pop to it, but when the chorus rolls around, one can't help and feel the strong influence of Pink Floyd
. Eventually, the song fades away with a heartfelt performance by all, and the bar is set for another new song: Thank You Jack White (For the Fiberoptic Jesus You Gave Me)
is pretty self-explanatory. It's about, well, Jack White giving our heroes a fiberoptic Jesus. But the music is an ode to Johnny Cash, as it blends old school country and rock n' roll into one, and the result is a fantastic, ballad like song with a country twist. It's a great listen, and the talking intro from Wayne makes even that much more enjoyable.
This EP should be considered if you're a fan of the Flaming Lips. Though it's well over $10 for seven songs, it's still an amazing listen save for a single dud song. The overall feel of the song isn't very story telling, however, and that's a bit of a turn off. However, the songs themselves are great all around, whether they be new Lips or covers of classic alt-rock pieces, this album has brilliance written all over it in terms of musical performance/writing.
The Flaming Lips - Fight Test: