The Flaming Lips
American Head


3.8
excellent

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
September 11th, 2020 | 50 replies


Release Date: 09/11/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A return to pop sensibilities…

The Flaming Lips are one of those psychedelic bands that manage to twist your brain while listening to them sober. Whether hazy, dreamy, glacial or chaotic, they are truly mesmerizing, opening doors into their universe where you are bound to get lost. The band struck gold several times throughout their career despite some drastic changes in sound. Last year’s King’s Mouth brought back acoustic elements and the latest affair, American Head further builds on them. The resulting collection of tracks is their most straightforward and conventional since Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

Overall, American Head paints quite a lethargic portrait of the suburban life. The Xanax-induced euphoria it evokes masks the danger and damage lurking in the shadows. Tales of brain frying decisions and life altering drug experiences or consequences are discussed here mainly from teenager perspectives. What events these young Americans put themselves or are unwillingly put through are universally relatable today. The sonic foundation features mostly mellow piano chords and acoustic guitars. Over them, the group added various effects-drenched synthesizers and orchestral arrangements that ultimately reminisce their magnum opus, The Soft Bulletin. The embellishments are stemmed from recent albums, yet everything was combined in a very smooth way. My one small complaint is regarding the bass’ presence, which could have been a tad more audible. Moreover, front man Wayne Coyne does a solid job in filtering dark memories through his trademark, inspiring childish optimism. Highlights include the nostalgic ‘Flowers of Neptune 6’, whose sweet picked guitar and lush piano lines build up towards a glorious, horns assisted finale. Also, the subdued guitar strums on ‘Mother I’ve Taken LSD’ & 'Will You Return/Will You Come Down' gently march alongside lovely strings and Mellotron leads. These are one of the most unabashedly beautiful tracks the guys offered in almost two decades. Especially the breaks after the former's choruses are so enticing. On the other hand, ‘Brother Eye’ boasts a mournful tone, where pulsing keys are joined by minimal synths and occasionally pushed by kick drums. The vocoded croons complement the track’s grieving atmosphere and Wayne’s fragile delivery. Meanwhile, the playful rhythm of ‘At the Movies on Quaaludes’ almost makes you forget its story consisting of what stupid dreams loaded brains emit. In a way, the innocence in Coyne’s voice makes his tale seem closer to daydreams and not of a life thrown down the drain. This duality is very prevalent on this much smarter than it initially appears to be LP.

Akin to its lyrics, American Head ends up as a timeless adventure. Even though it tends to fall a bit too much on the mellow side, it’s great to see how focused The Flaming Lips are again. Despite the similarities, the record does not fall in The Soft Bulletin’s shadow. It is definitely the work of a veteran act that learned how to evolve their sound and incorporate the past into it too. Luckily, they have reached another high point in their volatile career, continuing to move forward.



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user ratings (88)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


5215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Another highlight in their career, although it could've had a couple of more powerful songs. In a weird way, it's a good timing with the release date.



Stream here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgWaChX1cno&list=OLAK5uy_mBogL9JXdFa6z_vs6-ikPs1C55DmJfsCA

Digging: Gazpacho - Fireworker

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 11th 2020


35892 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is right up there with Manson on my priorities for this week. Excited to spin it, the singles were outstanding.



Also keen on seeing what sort of role Kacey Musgraves plays here. I know she's only credited on one track as a featured vocalist, but I could have sworn that was her humming at the end of 'Flowers of Neptune'.



Edit: Also great review, as usual.

Digging: Deftones - Ohms

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


16587 Comments


Nice rev. Need to check this

Digging: Marilyn Manson - We Are Chaos

Pikazilla
September 11th 2020


12280 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This was a major letdown.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


5215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Thank you! It was harder to relate to the American life Wayne sings about as I was raised in an ex-communist country.



The Kacey Musgraves track didn't blow me away, her vocal input is nice but minimal. There are many other better tracks on the record.



Now I am ready for an out there Flaming Lips record such as The Terror.

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 11th 2020


35892 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Last year’s King’s Mouth brought back acoustic elements and the latest affair, American Head further builds on them. The resulting collection of tracks is their most straightforward and conventional since Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots."



I really hope this is true. I've always enjoyed their melodic and catchy stuff over their experimental side, although The Terror is incredible.

Pikazilla
September 11th 2020


12280 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Terror isn't even in the top half of their discography tho

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


5215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I got into them with Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi, but The Terror is such a gripping journey. Embryo is good, but I never devoted enough time to understand it. Will have to change that.

Kompys2000
September 11th 2020


4469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Terror good



Cautiously optimistic abt this one

Digging: Pelt - Ayahuasca

ChaoticVortex
September 11th 2020


1045 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I liked King's Mouth and judging from the singles and the review they seem to be goin in the right direction. Given how shitty this year is, I think we can all benefit from some quality Lips melodies.

juiceviaorange
September 11th 2020


825 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is really good...loving the melancholic vibes and the stuff about Wayne's brother. I dug King's Mouth too which made me appreciate Oczy Mlody a lot more too. I've really loved the majority of their 21st century run. Makes for a nice, spacey, apocalyptic playlist with the occasional sugary sweetness we still love from them.

Cormano
September 12th 2020


2228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

assassins is so damn good

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2020


28917 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Nice review, breaks down the album's sound palette v nicely. Wish I was more into this, but most of these songs feel so washed up from the quirk and strangeness you described in the opening para - there's some nice melodies and decent writing here but it's hard to tell what's more vapid between Wayne's drug references or his political commentary. Whole thing is puddle deep :[

Digging: Deftones - Saturday Night Wrist

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2020


44087 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I really cooled on these guys since the whole Kliph Scurlock debacle. both because he was a massive part of filling out their sound, and cos Wayne Coyne is a gigantic shithead to everyone he's close to really



I'll still check this but pessimistically

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
September 12th 2020


15164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

just plug yr nose lol?

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2020


44087 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

this is deeply alright ye

BlitzPhoenix98
September 12th 2020


42 Comments


Good review. Honestly, I doubt I'm going to be checking this out, I've lost interest in the recent The Flaming Lips releases due to their inconsistency. I listened to the singles and only Flowers Of Neptune 6 really sticks out while the rest suffer from either shoddy lyricism, inconsistency or sloppiness.

NorthernSkylark
September 12th 2020


10386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty good

Digging: The Carpenters - A Song For You

zoso33
September 12th 2020


535 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thank you Flaming Lips for continuously saving music

Digging: Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks - Enter the Slasher House

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
September 12th 2020


644 Comments


On first listen this was alright. It's basically an album of "Vein of Stars" type songs which isn't a bad thing at all, but I don't really know what I want from the Flaming Lips at this point. Their recent experimental stuff doesn't do anything for me (at best) and their simpler stuff has a been there/done that quality to it. Thought the lyrics here were really hit-and-miss and it feels like fifteen minutes too long. But this might grow with more listens, there's definitely some nice moments.

Digging: khotin - Finds You Well



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