Artist – Album: The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
Released: 17th May 1999
Sounds Like: It can’t help but put a smile on your face
I don’t think anyone has ever asked me what the best gig I ever want to was – I guess I’m just not that interesting to you people – but, you know what, I’m going to tell you all anyway. So there. It was these guys, the Flaming Lips. The first gig I saw was good – James at the M.E.N – and at 14, when I took a girl to a gig for the first time, it was curiously to see Simon & Garfunkel, a couple of septuagenarians. R.E.M were a fantastic arena band, as were Oasis, whilst Jens Lekman was stunning in one of the most intimate venues in Manchester. At the same place my mind was blown by local nutters Livestock Jihad, complete with pig-mask wearing dancers and crowd-surfing, fat and bald frontman, a few weeks ago. Also worthy of mention were Sigur Rós, Arcade Fire and even OK Go. But none of these could compare to the Flaming Lips at Jodrell Bank observatory last summer.
It was an incredible experience, with scores of giant multi-coloured balloons bouncing through the crowd, whilst costumed dancers cavorted on the stage and videos were projected straight on to the satellite dish. Wayne Coyne did everything in his powers to whip us into a frenzy, singing through a microphone and surfing the crowd in a Zorb ball.
But, of course, all that would mean nothing if the songs weren’t any good. The Flaming Lips specialise in joyous anthems of universal topics, songs that speak to the soul and bring everyone together. And the collection of tunes on this album are arguably the most all-encompassing of their entire thirty year career. ‘Race for the Prize’ kicks things off in typical bombastic fashion, telling the tale of two scientists who sought to save the world whatever the cost – “Theirs is to win, If it kills them, They're just human, With wives and children.” At times, the record slows to walking pace, but the likes of ‘Waitin’ for a Superman’ and ‘Feeling Yourself Disintegrate’ are the album’s secret weapons – deeply soulful tracks of transcendental beauty and emotion. It is quite simply one of the finest records ever set down, and one of few that could follow comfortably in the footsteps of yesterday’s Pet Sounds.
Albumaday... rating: 10/10
1. Race for the Prize – 4:18
2. A Spoonful Weighs a Ton – 3:32
3. The Spark That Bled – 5:55
4. Slow Motion – 3:53
5. What Is the Light? – 4:05
6. The Observer – 4:10
7. Waitin’ for a Superman – 4:17
8. Suddenly Everything Has Changed – 3:54
9. The Gash – 4:02
10. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate – 5:17
11. Sleeping on the Roof – 3:09
12. Race for the Prize (Mokran Remix) – 4:09
13. Waitin’ for a Superman (Mokran Remix) – 4:19
14. Buggin’ (Mokran Remix) – 3:16
Listen to ‘Feeling Yourself Disintegrate’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8IP3S8dxU8
Also released on the 17th May:
2010: LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening