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Embryonic [Standard]
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£12.32+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

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.
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on 25 February 2010
I've no complaints with the music here, a return to the scuzzy, shambling psychedelia once typical of the Flaming Lips before the more conventionally melodic run of albums that began with 'Clouds taste metallic'. I loved 'Clouds...', 'The Soft Bulletin' and 'Yoshimi....', but found the 'At War With The Mystics' to be a bit limp and half-hearted in parts. By returning to the less commercial, freer music of their earlier albums the band seem reinvigorated, but they haven't lost their way with a good melody either, and this is a great fun album to listen to.

Or it would be if it wasn't for the horrible mastering, which somehow makes this album a chore to listen for more than a few songs at a time. I'm not talking about loudness or distortion here (I'm a big fan of both), I'm talking about the combination of overcompressed mastering and the digital waveform carrier (CD or mp3). Even with the sound turned down, this combination really hurts my ears. Of course this is a personal thing, and maybe I'm psycho-acoustically abnormal, but for me this is a real problem. To be clear about the kind of aural unpleasantness I'm talking about, the best analogy I can think of is the sound of a CD skipping on a pub jukebox turned up loud. Ouch.

Happily, there is a solution to this problem - buy the vinyl. Having compared the two formats, I'm glad to report that the vinyl edition sounds just fine. Why this should be I'm not entirely sure - presumably the vinyl is cut from the same digital master - but the effect is undeniable. Perhaps the physical limitations of the vinyl groove mean that the compression has to be turned down for a playable transfer? Anyway, I'd strongly recommend buying this on vinyl, which comes with a free CD anyway, so you can compare for yourself.
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on 19 November 2009
Having become almost superstars, the new Flaming Lips album will probably turn off many people. Old fans, especially those (like me) who were introduced to the weird universe of the Lips through their most commercial album, Yoshimi...., will probably wonder what on earth is going on here. Also, it is probably too harsh for newbies, who will probably be turned off by its distinct lack of anything commercial.

But stick with it, and after a few listens the tunes and themes start to make themselves heard above the noise. I was also lucky enough to see the band live, and the songs they picked from Embryonic tended to make more sense in that setting. Although definitely no classic in the Soft Bulletin or Yoshimi... mode, this certainly is a better album than a first listen would suggest.
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on 4 January 2010
There isn't one Flaming Lips, there are about five! They don't stand still these guys, which, I suppose is how they've kept it interesting for over twenty five years. This album is another departure. Wayne Coyne's great cracked voice is still there, but this time in the service of some pretty extreme soundscapes. Conventional song structures are few and far between. If the more songy thing is what you want, get 'Clouds Taste Metallic', 'The Soft Bulletin', or 'Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots'. Actually, get all four albums, you probably need them.
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on 12 November 2015
Having come to the Flaming Lips by the way of Yoshimi which I absolutely loved then the Soft Bulletin like other reviewers I found that At war with the Mystics was disappointing but Embryonic is a real return to form and I have to disagree with others that there is not a duff song on this superb album, you cant just pick song out to listen to you have to let the album just wash over you and take you on a journey, I play it on repeat, mmmm here we go again.......
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on 26 December 2017
As described and on time
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on 17 April 2015
I needed this LP, it does everything!
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on 19 May 2015
Great album, fast delivery.
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on 13 February 2015
good item well worth the cost
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on 29 October 2009
If "Embryonic" does not quite have the stamp of genius of "Zaireeka" "the Soft Bulletin" or "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" it banishes the memory of "At War With The Mystics" and defies the often lukewarm reviews by critics in the music press who should know better. Although it is not as radio friendly as recent releases, criticisms that "Embryonic" is too long, too indulgent and sprawling are misconceived. It is not nearly as challenging or frazzled as made out; certainly there is a fuzzy quality to many of the tracks but the core characteristics of emotion, wonderment at the world and beauty are to the fore. Despite the relative brevity of the majority of the tracks (only 1 exceeds 6 minutes) there is a symphonic, epic (but fragile and in no way bombastic) feel to "Embryonic": see, for example, the 150 seconds of "Your Bats" where lolloping drum beat, an array of squelches, crackles and gorgeous colours courtesy of, presumably, Steven Droyd intertwine with Coyne's at once defeated, at once defiant voice. Criticisms? Wayne Coyne's lyrics are not on the level of the triumvirate of releases mentioned above and the final track "Watching the Planets" is curiously inconclusive - while it has the quality of leaving the listener wanting more, it does not bring proceedings to an end in the way, say, "Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon" did with "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots." However, these are, in the scheme of things, minor reservations. Assuming Coyne's voice is in fine fettle, "Embryonic" should sound sensational live.
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