After really getting into them this summer, I had the distinct pleasure of being asked to go and listen to an exclusive play-through of The Flaming Lips’ new album Embryonic last night at my Student Union. Having got their last three albums within a month, and loving each one, I was pretty excited to say the least. Unfortuantely, I have to say I was a little disappointed. My real love for the band tends to be because they manage to use all their experimentalism and noodly weirdness (yeah, that’s a term), but always reign it in. They are that rarest of things, an experimental band with pop sensibilities, an ear for a hook or a catchy riff, something to make you remember the song afterwards.
Embryonic didn’t seem to stick to this ideal at all. Full of freak outs, jams and general messing about, it had so little of that melodic loveliness that made me fall in love so quickly, and I have to say I came away a little despondant. Of course, this was a first listen, and repeated listens are a must, but I can’t see myself falling quite as hard for this album as the others. That being said, it did have its highlights: My favourite song, “Silver Trembling Hands” had already spread over the internet, but its strange screams, galloping drumbeat and echo-heavy vocals keep you hooked throughout, and provide a much-needed injection of energy at the tail-end of the 18-track monster. I’m sure I’ll be buying it, but I have to say, for now, Embryonic is not what I was hoping for.