Top positive review
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on 28 July 2011
I was not born when The Flaming Lips began recording music but by the time I took notice (mid nineties), their music had already been through so many permutations. Their early records had quite a few flavours, but generally occupied the space of "loud, distorted psyche rock", like a less jokey Butthole Surfers. Once they signed with Warner Brothers, they refined this sound for a few albums and by 1995's Clouds Taste Metallic, seemed to be adding a subversive pop element that must have seemed pretty exciting.
However (and I'm aware that I'm in the minority here) their next three records, while clearly offering something as evidenced by their massive success, are just not the kind of music I am interesting in (especially At War With The Mystics, which irritated me hugely). By this point, the Flaming Lips had become something different altogether. While I'm sure there is crossover, there are definetely fans who enjoy the early work but not the later days stuff, and vice versa.
Embryonic is something of a risk. It could have been something fans from both "early days" and "later days" camp could embrace, or neither. It is definetely not a fusion of both styles, or an updating/nostalgia trip to the old style and it's certainly not a commercial album. Calling to mind Tangerine Dream ("Virgo Self-Esteem Broadcast"), Paul's Boutique ("Silver Trembling Hands") and of course the Lips themselves, the record is a perfect sonic trip through songs, soundscapes and loud psyche jam territory. It's a really easy album to listen to if you have ever ventured happily away from pop music, but it's not likely to win over fans of the pop single format.
I'm usually wary of late-period releases being termed masterpieces, but for my money this is slightly better than even "Clouds Taste Metallic" or "In a Priest Driven Ambulance". My feeling may change with time but regardless, I will continue to enjoy this great album.