The Flaming Lips show off their own brand of trancey, experimental, eerie goth tunes in Embryonic.
With Embryonic, the Flaming Lips have abandoned the dreamy, melodic landscapes of 1999’s Soft Bulletin and 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots for a discordant, unpolished tenor. The band’s 12th album—a double disc—pulls the uncles of modern psychedelic rock farther down the rabbit hole, trading bouncy, joyous pop songs for meandering guitars, background screams, furious drumming, and straight-up noise. Whereas earlier Flaming Lips lyrics had the ability to induce beautiful, swelling tears of joy (e.g., “Do You Realize??”), this scattershot of songs might inspire an existential crisis or a drug-addled meltdown. Take the third track, “Evil,” where lead singer Wayne Coyne’s defeated voice sighs over suspenseful, minor-chord key progressions. “I wish I could go back, go back in time,” he whimpers. Consider Embryonic to be the band’s White Light, White Heat—like the Velvet Underground classic, it’s a dark, unpredictable journey with high highs and low lows, but a dinner party playlist this is not.