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Excellent, but Yoshimi is even better
on 28 March 2003
A view common to most Flaming Lips fans is that The Soft Bulletin represents their crowning achievement, one which I'm afraid I don't share. I first bought their 'Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots' album and within a matter of days it was decided as the best album I'd ever heard. Yet after repeatedly reading that it wasn't as good as the album at hand I decided to buy it.
First things first, there were no surprizes in that this album is sheer brilliance on a disc. The opening track "race for the prize" questions the need for dedication and faith in science. It combines amazing musicality with brilliantly insightful vocal melodies and some of the best lyrics around. The rest of the album explores the possibility that Science and Life derived from the same uncontainable love that everybody feels at some point in their lives. The album also (with scientific logic in my view) explores the hows and whys of the creation and need for this love.
The production of the album can't be faulted either, Dave Friddmann doing a typically superb job, with every nuance of musical detail on the disc. And Wayne Coyne's voice is simply magnificent, highlighted on the track "a spoonful weighs a ton".
But (and there had to be one), for all that I can't help but question this belief that it isn't surpassed by Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. There's a sense of maturity in the latter that just isn't quite present on The Soft Bulletin. And something about the way the songs on Yoshimi flow into eachother makes the album as a whole more tangible and enjoyable, and makes it feel more complete in its interpretation. If you're new to the lips I'd definitely recomment you first buy the Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots album, if you like what you hear give this one a try.